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Life cycle analysis of UK coal fired power plants

Odeh, N. A. and Cockerill, T. T. (2008) Life cycle analysis of UK coal fired power plants. Energy Conversion and Management, 49 (2). pp. 212-220. ISSN 0196-8904

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.enconman.2007.06.014


This paper examines the life cycle GHG emissions from existing UK pulverized coal power plants. The life cycle of the electricity Generation plant includes construction, operation and decommissioning. The operation phase is extended to upstream and downstream processes. Upstream processes include the mining and transport of coal including methane leakage and the production and transport of limestone and ammonia, which are necessary for flue gas clean up. Downstream processes, on the other hand, include waste disposal and the recovery of land used for surface mining. The methodology used is material based process analysis that allows calculation of the total emissions for each process involved. A simple model for predicting the energy and material requirements of the power plant is developed. Preliminary calculations reveal that for a typical UK coal fired plant, the life cycle emissions amount to 990 g CO2-e/kWh of electricity generated, which compares well with previous UK studies. The majority of these emissions result from direct fuel combustion (882 g/kWh 89%) with methane leakage from mining operations accounting for 60% of indirect emissions. In total, mining operations (including methane leakage) account for 67.4% of indirect emissions, while limestone and other material production and transport account for 31.5%. The methodology developed is also applied to a typical IGCC power plant. It is found that IGCC life cycle emissions are 15% less than those from PC power plants. Furthermore, upon investigating the influence of power plant parameters on life cycle emissions, it is determined that, while the effect of changing the load factor is negligible, increasing efficiency from 35% to 38% can reduce emissions by 7.6%. The current study is funded by the UK National Environment Research Council (NERC) and is undertaken as part of the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Consortium (UKCCSC). Future work will investigate the life cycle emissions from other power generation technologies with and without carbon capture and storage. The current paper reveals that it might be possible that, when CCS is employed. the emissions during generation decrease to a level where the emissions from upstream processes (i.e. coal production and transport) become dominant, and so, the life cycle efficiency of the CCS system can be significantly reduced. The location of coal, coal composition and mining method are important in determining the overall impacts. In addition to studying the net emissions from CCS systems, future work will also investigate the feasibility and technoeconomics of these systems as a means of carbon abatement.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Construction Management and Engineering
ID Code:12330

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