Friday, March 20, 2009

Workshop on Soma Basin Coal Reserves in Energy Generation

by Haluk Direskeneli, METU ME 1973, MMO Ankara 6606, TMMOB Chamber of Mechanical Engineers, Member of Energy Working Group,


In this article, your writer has evaluated the existing and new coal firing thermal power plants in Soma basin coal reserves, tried to explain the operational problems, and advised the best use of new coal firing technologies for efficient application in the new thermal power plant investments. Key words: Coal / IGCC / CFB / Pulverized

Dear Energy Professional, Dear Colleagues,

We are very pleased to learn the recent Announcement made by Chamber of Mining Engineers of Turkey ( that they will be organizing a Workshop/ Seminar on “Soma Basin Coal Reserves in Energy Generation” on 16-17-18 April 2009 at Soma Thermal Power Plant and Soma Basin Coal Mines premises with cooperation and contributions of Chambers of Mechanical, Electrical, Chemical Engineers of Turkey.

We have been advised that the tentative agenda in the Seminar/ Workshop will cover the following key subjects

- Coal, its importance in Turkish Energy politics
- Turkish Local energy resources, renewable potentials
- Coal site planning
- Economics of Soma Coal Reserves,
- Coal preparation, Enhancing, Selective Mining,
- Recultivation of coal fields, Plant Recovery
- Coal gasification at site, underground in the mine field
- Coal gasification and liquefaction, above ground
- Carbon Capture and Sequestration,
- Applicable Coal firing technologies,
- Assessment of existing pulverized coal firing
- New Coal firing technologies, Circulating Fluidized Bed,
- Integrated gasification combined cycle, applications
- Electrostatic Precipitators,
- Flue gas desulphurization,
- New High Voltage Power transmission applications,

There will be also a site tour on the last day for the interested parties.

We all know that one of the most important electric power generation projects are in Soma Lignite region where one of the largest lignite mines are located in Turkey.
Available coal in various coal mines in the Soma basin has a challenging content with relatively poor low calorific value at ranging about average 3335 and 2400 kcal per kg LHV respectively. Sulphur content is around 1% in both coal mines.

Turkey has both hard coal and lignite deposits. The hard coal is mostly located in the western part of the country, in the Zonguldak Basin, which has more than 700 million metric tons of workable reserves, about 80% of which can be coked. Lignite deposits are widespread and plentiful; reserves are estimated at more than 8 billion metric tons (7th largest in the world), most of which is economically mineable, though only about 7% has a heat content of more than 3,000 kilocalories per kilogram. About 40% of the Turkey's lignite is in the Elbistan Basin.
The Turkish Hard Coal Institute operates five underground mines in Turkey, and is the only hard coal production entity in the country. The two most important lignite fields in Turkey -- the Afsin-Elbistan and Sivas-Kangal coal fields -- are owned by EUAS and operated by private companies under contract. Even though there is significant production of lignite and some production of hard coal in Turkey, not enough coal is mined to meet demand.
As a result, Turkey imports more than 16 million tons of hard coal each year, mostly from Australia, the United States, South Africa, and Russia. Coal is used mainly for electric power steelmaking, and cement production. About 75% of the Turkey's lignite is used as a fuel source for electric power production
Recent reports and studies advise that, in coming years, coal in the energy sector with use new clean coal technologies, and therefore will have a significant share in the world. Coal is our most important domestic-fossil energy source. Therefore, the best use of clean coal technologies in the production of electricity is deemed necessary.

The Liberal markets require security of supply. Natural gas fired power plants are given first priority in electricity generation since they are relatively easy and can be completed quickly. Turkey is importing large amount of natural gas. Her imported gas dependence on the energy sector has increased rapidly in the recent years. That is too dangerous.

The increasing world demand for natural gas, made the natural gas supply in the market to shrink and trigger the process that has turned into local coal.

Depending on the conversion process of coal combustion technology, an evolution that takes place in fuel selection. In terms of technology and market, the energy sector in recent years, the new technological developments are the most important factor to watch. The technology is now available not only in developed countries, but also created in the developing countries in OEM development and manufacture.

Energy technology in Western Europe and North America has now become very expensive. Soon, Western Europe and North American firms will not be able to sell their goods outside their local market due to their high prices. In the last few years, China, India, South Korea, are very competitive in thermal power plant construction. However, these newcomer countries cannot supply the best, the most efficient, the fastest plants. But soon we will probably observe that this will take place.

Turkey's own domestic market, according to this new orientation should also comply with this new development. In our country, our engineering, as well as our manufacturing industry are very developed and very competitive in potential. We must design our own thermal power plants, construct, complete, operate and maintain by ourselves.

We as, Chamber of Mechanical Engineers, believe that many things can be done with available the local engineering capacity. Because in the world, everyone, every engineering faculty / every Thermodynamics students have the same thermodynamic / heat transfer course curriculum, the same software / hardware, they use the same enthalpy, entropy, exergy concepts same as in everywhere.

We must support our young engineers. We must furnish more research funding / more software / hardware / research support, more Master / Doctorate / PhD and Post-Doc programs, to allocate more money for scientific research and development.

In this way, Turkey can own the local design / technology for appropriate thermal power plant technology in order to fire the local coal smoothly. Similarly we should start to manufacture our own wind and hydraulic turbines, with maximum local coverage.

Public sector financing needs in the past due to give priority to foreign investors, "the cheapest", "with financing" design / production, inefficient and poor quality of thermal power plants were taken. Domestic fuel and environmental conditions of these plants could not adapt, they quickly aging. Some of the foreign companies do not continue their line of business any more. They may even bankrupt, or be purchased. Western European and North American companies are too expensive, in a sense they can not sell anymore.

In recent years, thermal power plant construction firms of China, Korea, and India began to enter the local market at more reasonable prices. The Westerns companies can not compete with prices. If a Chinese/ Indian company gets the pre-qualification bids, other companies decline to quote. Because the Eastern companies can lower their price much lower than expected western market figures and they are too serious in dominating the market they are targeted. In this case, "Western" companies avoid to bid, and Chinese / Indian / Korean companies become dominant in the Turkish market.

On the other hand, the best application of local fuel / coal can only be realized with the best use of local engineering capability, a reality which is ignored for many years. Foreign companies construct plants, after completing trial run, will make final acceptance and leave the plant.

Then the local Operators, such as those in Soma thermal power plants will remain with the problems of power plants. If this plant is designed/ constructed by the local companies, investors can expect customer satisfaction at all times for the smooth / efficient / programmed maintenance Domestic firms can not survive with failed operation.

Recently we are under the influence of major global economic crisis. Capacity utilization is falling. Unemployment rate is rising. All of this will prevail a certain period, and finally will be over. Energy needs will never end. We have big domestic demand and the current supply is not sufficient

In renewable energy sources, it is not possible to immediately shut down and contribute to feed the main grid non stop. Solar power plants apparently do not work at night. Wind power plants do not work when there is no wind. Renewable energy plants need same size thermal power plants in hot redundant standby. You can not solve your energy needs only with wind and sun. Fast solution is not that easy as it looks. Long-term policies are necessary for national energy supply security.

We must design our own thermal power plants based on our own indigenous local fuel firing. Our own engineers can design thermal power plants, coal, oil and gas fired. They have necessary academic as well as practical knowledge and we are sure that they have ability to run necessary design softwares which are all available in the global international markets. Hence, it is important to create the necessary environment. Turkey should rely on her own investors, manufacturers, academics, engineering and contracting services in the long run.

Investors buy the best goods and equipment, with the cheapest price. This is obvious. On the other hand, even in recent years, contracting services are also given to foreigners, especially to Chinese, Indian Koreans. This is a very alarming situation. Energy market should not stay all free. Local Contractors and engineering companies are to be protected to survive.


Thermal Power plant in Manisa Soma Lignite Basin thermal power plants is a remarkable one. Here are the major characteristics,

Soma-A Thermal Power Plant; 7th and 8th Units
Power Plant Capacity: 2x 22 MWe (319 million kW-hours)
Contractor: Alstom, France
Commercial Operation Date; 1957
Main Fuel Used, Lignite 3325 kcal / kg LHV
Quantity of fuel used daily, 800 tons
Quantity of Fuel Stocks, 30.000 tons

Soma-B Thermal Power Plant; 1-2-3-4th Units
Power Plant Capacity: 4x 165 MWe
Contractor Companies: SkodaExport, MATEX, Local Partner
Commercial Operation Date; 1984-1986
Main Fuel Used, Lignite 2400 kcal / kg LHV

Soma-B Thermal Power Plant, 5th-6th Units
Power Plant Capacity: 2x 165 MWe
Contractor Companies: SkodaExport, MATEX, Local Partner
Commercial Operation Date; 1990-1991
Main Fuel Used, Lignite 1500 kcal / kg LHV

Soma-B, 1-6 Units Daily Fuel Quantity, 22,000 tons
Soma-B, 1-6 Units Amount for Fuel Stock, 800,000 tons

Thermal power plants generate electricity by combustion of the fuel available. Here the main fuel is lignite coal of Soma Lignite Basin.

The first firing necessary for combustion in the boiler is provided by fueloil. Then the lignite coal as pulverized in coal mills is burned in steam boilers, the inlet water, is converted to steam. Necessary water is supplied from nearby water dams.

As a result of the fuel combustion, we get fly ash and waste gas which are disposed to atmosphere. Waste gas should be cleaned through electrostatic precipitators with enough capacity to avoid Environmental pollution. The initial E/P designs are not adequate in dust collection.

In 2006, the tender for new E/P for Soma B, 1-2 units, has been approved. 7-month period of manufacturing and design is given plus 4 more months for demolition of existing units and reinstallation. According to former Turkish regulations, flue gas dust disposal should be less then 250 milligrams of particles per cubic meter in exit flue gas. However according to the new EU harmonization laws, so this value is requested to be below 100 milligrams in the end. Contractors agreed to meet that condition to receive the order. Poland Elvo Company together with the local partner, executed the new E/P construction for total price of 8 million 845 thousand Euros, plus the cost of spare parts 98 thousand Euro. Within 11 months from award date, job was completed in 2007. The other units also need new E/Ps.

The first firing for necessary for combustion in the boiler is provided by fuel oil. Then the lignite coal as pulverized in coal mills is burned in steam boilers, the inlet water, is converted to steam. Water need is supplied from nearby water dams.

As a result of the fuel combustion, we get fly ash and waste gas which are disposed to atmosphere. Waste gas should be cleaned through electrostatic precipitators with enough capacity to avoid Environmental pollution. The initial E/P designs are not adequate in dust collection.

The existing power plants (Groups A and B) are based on pulverized coal firing technology which need relatively higher calorific value plus less moisture. We all know that Pulverized coal firing technique can be successful only if you lower the moisture content and hence with higher the calorific value.

The Soma-C (2x300 MWe) investment in future could be designed to CFB (Circulating Fluid bed) although there are very few similar capacity CFB references in the world, and therefore we have the risk of first to try for that capacity plus for that lignite composition.

IGCC (Integrated Gasification combined cycle) firing technology may also be employed. Here in this technology you build a sort of refinery at site next to the power plant in order to generate "Synthetic gas" from poor lignite and then you fire this synthetic gas in the combined cycle power plants similar to natural firing. All seem too logical but we still have doubt if it is applicable for our lignite. So we need more research.

Existing Soma basin coal mines are to be enriched at coal site prior to feeding into the steam boilers, it has to be cleaned, screened to free from unburned combustibles, its moisture level has to be reduced at least 25% by prior drying. This is called “Selective mining”. These are relatively easy methods to make available fuel to fire better at coal site,

Since the Sulphur in coal is less than 1%,hence former administration decided that Flue Gas DeSulphurisation (FGD) system would not be considered. However, due to ever increasing concern for global warming, and recent ratification of Kyoto protocol will eventually lead to evaluate CCS (Carbon Capture and Sequestration) technology in future.

In the meantime, local MMO office has initiated preliminary works for district heating of the new nearby housing complexes by use of waste heat from Soma Thermal power plant.

Each country designs and develops her own indigenous coal firing technology by herself, and they have to design their own plants accordingly. We should start to design/construct our own thermal power plants by ourselves.

We should also appreciate that power generation technology is a very dear, very precious, very expensive issue. It is NOT free of charge, and sometimes it is not even possible to get only with bare money as in the case of your own independent effective/ sound / efficient power generation. You can only get it through your own hard work by employing your young talents with their latest scientific and intellectual capability.

Therefore we would strongly advise our decision makers in the respective public posts to put more incentive for the research activities in the local Universities, more funds for MSc/ PhD/ PostDoc works, more software and hardware for our scientists, more money for them to spend at site for more research.

Those initiatives/ and further incentives will put more value added high tech into our indigenous lignite development in a sound, cost-effective and logical way. In the long run we can also export our local technology in order to construct more thermal power plants in other countries through our contractors. We can get it through our own hard work by employing our young talents with their latest scientific and intellectual capability.

The Workshop in Soma coal and power plant premises will create a great opportunity for all interested local parties to investigate the possible/ applicable technologies, to investigate and assess the available intellectual capability of the local human resources.

We would be very pleased to join/ support/ contribute to the event, and invite all interested parties to join us.

With Deepest Regards,

Haluk Direskeneli, Ankara based Energy Analyst
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