tenth the 1979 federal New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) by 2010. An important feature of the DOE plan is to achieve the above efficiency improvements and emissions reductions at an overall cost of electricity generation that is 10 to 20 percent lower than today's coal-fired power plants. In the view of the committee these objectives, while laudatory, may be overly optimistic. In general, advanced technologies tend to perform less well and cost significantly more than originally envisioned as they move from concept to full-scale commercial operation (Merrow et al., 1981). In the case of technologically complex advanced power systems, the objective of achieving high-efficiency and low emissions with a 10 to 20 percent reduction in the cost of electricity may be particularly challenging. A more realistic goal would be to achieve the proposed efficiency improvements at an overall cost comparable to current new coal plants.

The committee also notes that many of DOE's emission goals for 2000 to 2010 already can be met with current commercial emissions control technology, which many state and local governments now require. The expected trend toward increasingly stringent environmental regulations could demand emissions levels that are more stringent than the current DOE goals, thereby increasing plant costs. The committee concluded that DOE's power plant emissions goals are insufficiently challenging given the capabilities of current commercial technology and anticipated environmental demands on future coal use.

Despite reservations regarding program goals for the cost of electricity and the environmental emissions, the committee noted the important role of DOE's advanced power systems program in stimulating the development of new technologies to meet anticipated electricity demand early in the next century. Participation by DOE in technology development is particularly important given the reluctance of the utility industry to invest heavily in RD&D of advanced coal-based technologies in today's increasingly competitive environment.

For the purposes of this study, the committee divided the advanced coal-based power generation technologies under development with DOE funding into three groups, based on target efficiencies and approximate dates for commercial availability:

  • Group 1 technologies—low-emission boiler systems (LEBS), first-generation PFBC systems, and first-generation IGCC systems—have target efficiencies in the range of 40 to 42 percent and should be available around the year 2000.
  • Group 2 technologies—externally fired combined-cycle (EFCC) systems, second-generation PFBC systems, and second-generation IGCC systems—are projected to have efficiencies of approximately 45 percent and to be available no later than 2005.
  • Group 3 technologies—high-performance power system (HIPPS), advanced second-generation PFBC systems, integrated gasification advanced-cycle (IGAC) systems, and integrated gasification fuel cell (IGFC) systems—have projected efficiencies of 50 percent or greater and are expected to be available in the 2010 to 2015 time period.


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