WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Department of Energy and JEA, the public utility of Florida, have achieved a significant milestone in the DOE's Clean Coal Technology Demonstration Program by completing a project in which JEA’s Northside Generating Station was converted into one of the cleanest burning coal-fired power plants in the world.
As part of the 8-year, $320 million cost-shared project, JEA installed state-of-the-art technology known as circulating fluidized bed combustion in a 300?megawatt combustor—triple the size of any previous demonstration—and demonstrated that the technology is commercially ready and environmentally friendly. The advanced system replaced a natural gas and oil-fired unit that was outdated, less reliable, and more expensive to operate.
The project met or exceeded all environmental standards and honored a commitment to its neighbors to reduce pollutants by at least ten percent. Along the way, the demonstration earned prestigious awards including Power magazine's “2002 Powerplant Award” and Florida Engineering Society’s “Technical Achievement Award 2002.”
With the plant’s location in an environmentally sensitive area surrounded by wetlands, JEA consulted with community and environmental groups early on and agreed to meet emission levels well below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements. As a result, the JEA unit emitted less than 0.15 pounds of sulfur dioxide per million British thermal units (Btus) of energy and less than 0.09 pounds of nitrogen oxides per million Btus. Similarly stringent standards were met for particulate matter, carbon monoxide, mercury, and a number of other pollutants.
The boiler also reached operating efficiencies of 88–92 percent at full load – considered very high in the utility industry. This high efficiency not only conserves fuel, it reduces emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
The successful demonstration provides electricity producers with a system that can use a variety of fuels, including mid- to high-sulfur coals, and still meets environmental standards. Just as important to its 380,000 customers, the JEA demonstration translates into moderate electricity costs.
JEA will continue to operate the plant as a commercial, baseload unit—a unit that is preferentially operated when customer demand is low because of its efficiency and environmental performance.