Grassroots push for HELE technology

Loy Yang Power station, Victoria, Australia.


Energy policy.

It’s a tough topic to tackle if you’re pragmatic. In the below article from the Latrobe Valley Express, we see the grassroots Committee for Gippsland tackle the issue head on.

Why is this such a tough topic? We all want to do right by the environment, but we also want to be able to turn our air conditioners on and keep our economy moving and growing. There is a balance to be found between reliability, affordability and emissions intensity. Unfortunately, this balance remains elusive.

Energy prices in our home state of Victoria have skyrocketed in the past year:

Source: AEMO


Which is why it’s heartening to read about grassroots support for exploring high efficiency, low emissions (HELE) power generation technology.

The below article starts out talking about a recent, well-managed, scheduled maintenance event at Loy Yang A power station, and highlighting the importance of the power station to the economy.

The article goes on to quote Mary Aldred, Chief Executive of the Committee for Gippsland:

“Loy Yang provides a major contribution to Victoria’s baselaod power needs and will continue to until its scheduled closure in the late 2040s.

“This gives our community a clear timeline and more broadly the opportunity to consider and plan for replacement baseload generation.”

Ms Aldred said the committee had been in discussions with the three tiers of government to consider ways of developing a low emission, high efficiency, brown coal-fired power station in the Valley.

“We’ve been raising it with the state and federal government and we’re very keen to do that into the new year,” she said.

“One of the things we’re talking [about] with Regional Development Australia and local government partners is bringing some businesses into the region that have successfully done this internationally [and] to talk to us about how this might be done in the Latrobe Valley.

As you can imagine, we agree with this approach.

We need to ensure affordable, reliable baseload power while striving to improve emissions intensity.

Our Coldry technology is the ‘gateway’ enabler for HELE.

What does this mean? Let’s back up for a moment and take a quick look at current brown coal power generation to understand and appreciate how Coldry fits in.

Current brown coal-fired power stations operate at lower temperatures and require larger boilers than black coal-fired power stations due to the high moisture content of brown coal. This means a brown coal-fired power station costs more to build than a black coal facility for a given generation capacity.

So, why build a brown coal power station? The cost-benefit is in the relatively lower cost of the brown coal, which brings down the average cost per megawatt hour (MWh) compared to black coal. Cheap, abundant brown coal has been a competitive advantage for Victoria for decades. It’s no surprise that large, energy-intensive industries tend to locate facilities (and jobs) in markets with affordable energy.

Broadly, HELE technology simply means higher operating temperatures and pressures, resulting in a more efficient use of the fuel and lower emissions per MWh.

But HELE plants can’t use brown coal in its raw form. Brown coal is too wet. It burns at a lower temperature than black coal. It needs to be dried first.

This may sound easy, but industry and government have spent a lot of money on research and development over several decades to overcome the mositure problem, without much commercial success.

You see, while drying is easy, doing so in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner has remained elusive (until Coldry).

Most approaches have used high temperatures or high pressures, or both, resulting in more energy being used than the net uplift in calorific value.

The Coldry process uses a combination of ‘brown coal densification’ and waste heat utilisation to deliver a low pressure, low temperature solution.

Further, the Coldry process can be tighlty integrated with a HELE power station, replacing cooling towers and the need to draw water from local river systems.

In short, if we’re going to consider HELE technology in Victoria, first we we need a cost effective drying solution.

Coldry is not only cost effective compared to other drying methods, it features a zero emissions footprint and delivers a substantial water saving outcome.

Read more…


Unit back in action

Bryce Eishold | Latrobe Valley Express | 28 Dec 2017

A nine-week maintenance overhaul at AGL’s Loy Yang A Power Station has been completed as the 560 megawatt unit one generator, one of four units, was returned to service at 5am on Friday…

Source: Unit back in action