UNDERWOOD, ND— Great River Energy unveiled its prototype module coal dryer today at the Coal Creek Power Station in Underwood, North Dakota, representing the first milestone in the power company's 4-year bid to boost the generating capacity and efficiency of power plants that burn high-moisture coal. The project is one of eight selected in January 2003 in the initial phase of the Department of Energy's Clean Coal Power Initiative, a 10-year, $2 billion commitment to clean coal technology and a key component of the National Energy Policy.
Today’s event launches the demonstration phase of this novel technology. Waste heat from the plant, which burns lignite, will be channeled through the dryer to vaporize almost a quarter of the lignite’s moisture before the fuel is fed into a power plant boiler. The technology is expected to boost the plant’s overall generating capacity, meaning power will be produced more efficiently from a lower volume of fuel. The higher efficiency rate will also translate into reduced air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
Successful commercial application of the technology would increase the marketability of high-moisture coal and result in striking environmental gains. In the United States today, power generation units that burn lignite and Powder River Basin coal, a high-moisture, subbituminous coal, have a combined capacity of 115 gigawatts (GW). Over the next two decades, the capacity of power plants burning high-moisture coal is projected to increase by another 100 GW.
If applied by power stations totaling just 10 GW, the technology would significantly reduce air emissions. Annual reductions per 10 GW are estimated at 6,890 tons of NOx, 18,360 tons of SO2, more than 7 million tons of CO2, 9,340 tons of particulates, and almost 300 pounds of mercury.
Expected to attend today's unveiling are local, state, and Federal officials, including North Dakota Governor John Hoeven, State Senator Kent Conrad, and the Department of Energy’s Dr. Joseph Strakey, who will speak at the event. Also present will be representatives from Great River Energy’s project partners—the Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, Calif.; Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.; Barr Engineering, Minneapolis, Minn.; Headwaters, Inc., South Jordan, Utah; and Falkirk Mining, Underwood, North Dakota.