Consultant R.W. Beck foresees growth of coal gasification technology

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Sept. 7 -- Boston-based consultant and engineering firm R.W. Beck foresees coal gasification technologies—particularly integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC)—becoming a key component in coal's anticipated resurgence.

Herbert Kosstrin, principal and senior director at R. W. Beck, said, "There are at least four good reasons for viewing IGCC as essential in continuing the renewed interest in coal-fired generation."

He listed those reason as:

-- It's a proven technology.

-- It represents the cleanest, least wasteful coal-processing technology.

-- It's increasingly cost-competitive.

-- It's gaining acceptance as the best available emissions control technology for coal.

The current generation of IGCC technology is a clean coal technology with 40% less water usage than other coal-to-power technologies. IGCC's fuel variable costs compare favorably with other coal plants, and its capital costs are equivalent to other clean coal technologies, Kosstrin said.

Above all, IGCC benefits from its coal feedstock. The US currently has proven coal reserves worth more than 225 years of supply at current consumption estimates, he said. Coal currently costs less than natural gas, is far less subject to price volatility, and it improves US energy security, reducing the dependence on foreign oil, Kosstrin said.

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