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Utility to Build Commercial Clean-coal Plant

September 6, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 36

American Electric Power (AEP), the largest U.S. electricity generator, announced last week its intention to build by 2010 the nation's first large-scale commercial integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) clean-coal power plant. The plant will be a baseload facility, generating electricity in the 1,000-MW range, AEP officials say. The Department of Energy has championed IGCC technology because of its efficiency and lower emissions, including mercury and carbon dioxide, and it has built two smaller demonstration plants. However, no power companies have been willing to build a full-scale facility because of the significantly higher costs compared with conventional facilities and the risks inherent in developing a new technology (C&EN, Feb. 23, page 20). AEP's decision was driven in part by an internal report, requested by shareholders, that examined the company's response to potential emissions regulations. The cost to build this large IGCC power plant may reach $1.6 billion, 20% more than a traditional coal-fired power plant, AEP says, but the company believes that with the IGCC technology, there will be no need to retrofit the plant in the future to comply with anticipated CO2 and other regulations. GE Energy has also expressed interest in building the new plant, AEP officials add, noting that last June, GE purchased ChevronTexaco's gasification technology business.


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