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Projektinfo – Detailed information on energy research

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© Vattenfall Europe AG
Simulation models for gas and coal-fired power plants
Projektinfo 05/2011
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Comparison of electricity production from fossil fuels

If industrial production requires electricity on a windless winter morning, solar energy systems and wind turbines reach their limits. Then, power plants which can convert fossil fuels into electricity no matter what the time, provide the electricity quantities required. Power plant technologies are under development for coal and gas, which can generate electricity more efficient and with lower emissions than previously. A realistic comparison of the efficiencies of modern power plant processes helps in decisions on the role of coal and gas in the future energy mix.

60 percent of electricity worldwide is generated by burning coal, natural gas and mineral oil. Fossil power plant technology will remain extremely important for the power supply in the decades to come. Decreasing the carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere as a result of this process is the aim of climate protection and is intended to restrict global warming. The German research programme into CO2 reduction technologies (abbreviation: COORETEC) can contribute to effectively reducing emissions. For more efficient power plants and separation of most of the CO2 using CCS technology, a variety of development options for power plant processes are available.

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CCS is the abbreviation for “Carbon Capture and Storage“. This process ensures that less than 100 g/kWh of CO2 is released when converting coal into electricity. Thus, the CO2 emissions are less than one third of those of natural gas-fired combined gas and steam turbine plants without CCS. The researchers at the Institute of Energy Systems at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) have developed standards which permit an objective comparison of extremely diverse technologies. At the end of the day, when generating electricity cost effectively, efficiency and emissions are key parameters and must be determined objectively to make the right decisions. By comparing different power plant processes under uniform constraints, their efficiencies and potential CO2 avoidance can be evaluated with greater precision.

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Project management
TU Hamburg-Harburg, IET