MIT Energy Initiative

Capture-ready coal plants – Options, technologies and economics

International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, Vol 1, pages 113-120 (2007)

Published: April 2007

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This paper summarizes the spectrum of options that can be employed during the initial design and construction of pulverized coal (PC), and integrated gasification and combined cycle (IGCC) plants to reduce the capital costs and energy losses associated with retrofitting for CO2 capture at some later time in the future. It also estimates lifetime (40 year) net present value (NPV) costs of plants with differing levels of pre-investment for CO2 capture under a wide range of CO2 price scenarios. Three scenarios are evaluated—a baseline supercritical PC plant, a baseline IGCC plant and an IGCC plant with pre-investment for capture. This analysis evaluates each technology option under a range of CO2 price scenarios and determines the optimum year of retrofit, if any. The results of the analysis show that a baseline PC plant is the most economical choice under low CO2 prices, and IGCC plants are preferable at higher CO2 prices (e.g., an initial price of about $22/t CO2 starting in 2015 and growing at 2%/year). Little difference is seen in the lifetime NPV costs between the IGCC plants with and without pre-investment for CO2capture. This paper also examines the impact of technology choice on lifetime CO2emissions. The difference in lifetime emissions become significant only under mid-estimate CO2 price scenarios (roughly between $20 and 40/t CO2) where IGCC plants will retrofit sooner than a PC plant.

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