Greenhouse Gas: A Driver for Advanced Energy Systems

by Max Ball

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From the first practical applications of steam 300 years ago to today’s ultrasupercritical steam plants, power plant designers have been challenged to balance capital cost against fuel costs. With the advent of a carbon constrained world, avoidance of carbon emissions becomes as important as conservation of fuel. This step change in the need for efficiency will take the power industry from its century long technology glidepath to a dynamic revolution. Industry needs and will develop new methods to manage the heat/power relationship.

SaskPower’s experience in developing a near zero emissions  power plant based on current technologies provides a tangible example of the new design paradigm. The Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration (ICCS demo) utilizes state-of-the-art engineering and design practice to re-establish basic supply curves for cost and efficiency, to optimize performance and to select the “best-of” technologies for a carbon constrained unit. The result will be one of the earliest and largest carbon capture facilities to date.

Even with the innovations of the ICCS demo, there remains a clear need for rethinking the heat/power cycle. When considered in the context of near zero emissions, revolutionary opportunities such as those presented by Supercritical CO2 Power Cycles need to become a high priority.