Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Afşin Elbistan, the Crazy Project

Dear Colleagues, Dear Energy Professional,

The most important electric power generation projects are in "Afsin Elbistan" region where the largest lignite mines are located in Turkey; including almost half of the entire local proven reserves.  The existing power plants (Groups A and B) are based on pulverized coal firing technology which need relatively higher calorific value plus less moisture. Indirect type Pulverized coal firing technique can be successful only if you lower the moisture content and hence with higher the calorific value.

Available coal has a challenging content with very poor Low calorific value at about average 1150 kcal per kg, and approximately  with 55% moisture, 20% ash, 1.5-4% sulphur content.

Thermal Power plant (A) has no flue gas desulphurization. It was built in early 1980s, and its firing technique was based on indirect firing of pulverized coal. Power plant (A) electrostatic precipitators were designed at low capacity flue-gas exit dust collecting. One other set of E/Ps were loaded with 30% of incoming pulverized coal for drying prior to final firing in the boiler combustion chamber. Hence they cannot carry the extended load and they are out of service most of the time.

In the indirect coal firing technique, you dry the incoming coal/ lignite first in the coal mills with hot flue gas and then you send 30% of that pulverized wet coal into a second set of electrostatic precipitators (vapor/brueden filters at +62m boiler elevation ) for further drying with outgoing hot flue gas.

This “indirect firing” was borrowed from cement process; it might be called technology plagiarism, and its application can not be proven its usefulness after 20 years of interrupted operation. Steam Boiler operation was almost in mess, non-stop operation was not possible for 4 steam boiler units altogether. When they call that “indirect coal firing” as the great western technology, one cannot conceal smile.

E/Ps are out of service most of the time, and the 2 of total 4 stacks in operation pour huge fly ash into atmosphere.  If E/Ps are not working properly in a thermal power plant, and furthermore if they have no flue gas desulphurization on the stacks, then it is our sincere feeling that those power plants have to be stopped for operation since their harm to nearby environment is greater that the expected gain in electricity generation to the national grid.

Thermal Power plant Unit-B is brand new, clean, and better, fully equipped with sufficient capacity flue gas desulphurization systems, with high capacity flue gas dust collecting electrostatic precipitators. There is almost no apparent dust on the existing stacks.

Last year (2010) Turkey could not use enough local coal resources. 46 percent of electricity generation was spent for natural gas. Large domestic coal reserves are waiting for exploitation in vast Afsin Elbistan basin.  We can have sustainable, environmentally friendly and also gain positive social impact on our economy. However, it is not so easy with today's market logic. A Master Plan for the regional development must be prepared for Elbistan region. That Master Plan should cover a region of Sivas Kangal, Elbistan, Adana Tufanbeyli, even Konya Karapınar coal mines.  Immediate privatization of new power plants following the construction is not correct. 

Afsin Elbistan B Power Plant Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report was approved with one important condition. That condition was the construction of new Flue Gas De-sulphurisation (FGD) installation for A-unit until 2012. This period will end in 2012 and hence will be extended until 2017 since FGD for A-unit has not been yet constructed. 

Afsin Elbistan’s regional air quality limit is another problem. New power plants can not be tolerated with air quality limits since they create adverse effects to existing situation. New EIA Preliminary studies are already initiated for the new additional thermal power plants to be constructed in future

In the pre-feasibility study / and EIA include river bed changes/ diversion, and the new water dams for cooling systems. Dry-cooling systems are recommended for cooling towers to minimize the water consumption, which is very important for nearby municipality water needs.

It s estimated that approximately 1 billion US Dollar equivalent budget is necessary for the rehabilitation of existing A-unit. This spending is no longer necessary.  Thermal Power plant A-unit is to be closed completely, cease operation. It should be sold at scrap value. Meanwhile its legal operational rights status of past privatization should be settled in courts.

For construction of C-E units, necessary infrastructure services are to be made by the public sources. Two towns are to be relocated. River-bed should be changed; water dams are to be constructed, high voltage transmission lines are to be installed.

For investment options, we can evaluate leasing, public investment, tendering, public-private partnership (PPP), Build-Operate (BO) and Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) models.  PPP seems most appropriate provided that we integrate into major Master Plan.

We have 450 million tons crude oil equivalent of coal in the field with vast economic value. That is with today's currency a value of U.S. $ 400 billion. 

We can estimate U.S. $ 1.7 per cubic meter of coal, covering a total of U.S. $ 4.25 for coal stripping/overburden plus other expenses that can lead to about total of 6 U.S. $ per ton coal (7.8 U.S. $ per ton coal by EUAS as of 2006) or approximately  1.315 U.S. $ per MMBTU , leading to a final cost of approx. 6.0  U.S.cent per kWh.  

So ball-park total US $ 2 billion investment (for each 1400 MWe TPP unit) may be paying off in approximately 8-10 years with average 33% plant efficiency, and 6500 hours operation per year.

That is electricity generation from your own resources. No need for imports.

A tender for the rehabilitation of thermal power A could not be finalized. World Bank loan was canceled.  Leasing auctions did/will not succeed. 

Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model could be developed, since public can handle certain major problems, such as river bed changes, relocation of local people, project guarantees.

High moisture content in available coal in Elbistan makes circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology very difficult to implement.  New clean coal technologies can be applied. Hence CCS, IGCC, oxy-firing, underground gasification technologies can be investigated. 

On the other hand it is not possible to install the necessary reactors in one piece in the field so gasification technology is very difficult to install over 300 MW capacity. 

The Treasury had previously received guaranteed loans. Today it is no longer applicable.

Today's most popular financing is non-recourse financing application. In this model, a project company is formed separate from investors; it is established by calculating the life of the project and the costs of credit given to the project company. So that project cost does not affect the sponsors' own budgets. 

There are many local engineering companies who use the latest available technology.  There are also reputable local universities who are using academic version of thermal power plants software within an increment of the commercial application with one important precondition that they should mention the name of the software in their academic articles. We have many new MSc and PhD dissertations which used the academic thermal power plant design softwares.  

AfsinElbistan lignite has to be enriched by moisture capture prior to pulverized firing. That could be via drying or  ESP applications, or any other means.

CFB is possible but we also need enrichment up to 2000 kcal/kg LHV, or 3000 BTU/lb HHV. Available references elsewhere are not compatible with Elbistan coal. 

IGCC needs further academic investigations prior to any commercial applications.  

Oxy-fuel is theoretically possible but we do not have any reliable practical research.  

From our past experience, those off-the-shelf foreign designs are obsolete, they do not work. Locals are to concentrate themselves into their own design of their own local lignite. Do not rely on foreign financing which will advise their obsolete lignite firing technologies. They did not work in the past; hence they will not work in future. 

In Elbistan, Clean Coal Technologies can create a great opportunity for all interested local parties to enable them to learn from past mistakes, to investigate the possible/ applicable technologies plus implementation of applicable “non-recourse” financing schemes, to investigate and assess the available intellectual capability of the local human resources.

AfsinElbistan is our future for our energy security; therefore we need to allocate more academic funds in order to have more research on local fuel supply that will enable to fire the available coal best in our own design thermal power plants. It is a real “Crazy Project”.

Haluk Direskeneli, Hamburg
 based Energy Analyst

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