A New Standard for Coal-fired Power Generation Environmental Performance

by Joe Douglass, Longview Power

The Longview Power project is a state-of-the-art power generation facility under construction in Maidsville, W.V. The project’s investments in innovative technologies, process efficiencies and emissions control systems are setting a new standard for coal-fired power plant environmental performance.

When the plant begins sustained commercial operations in early 2011, it will be one of the cleanest, most efficient and most technologically advanced supercritical pulverized coal (SCPC)-fired power plants in the U.S. An independent power producer, Longview will provide electricity to the country’s highest-demand market: the PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states, including West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Advanced Technology

Longview’s process efficiencies are driven by the 695-MW (net) advanced SCPC boiler, the technology of choice for new coal projects in Europe and Asia where high fuel costs and strict environmental requirements have driven the need for cleaner, more efficient power generation. Today’s advanced supercritical boilers are significantly more fuel-efficient than older subcritical boilers that power most U.S. coal-fired facilities. Longview’s best-in-class performance design incorporates Siemens Energy’s steam turbine-generator and technological advancements that will allow the project to consume less fuel per megawatt hour. The project’s net plant heat rate of 8,728 British thermal units per kilowatt-hour (Btu/kWh) will be the lowest of coal plants in the PJM Interconnection and among the 0.3 percent lowest in the U.S.

Emissions Controls

Longview’s owners understand the strong public expectations for any new power project to achieve industry-leading environmental performance. Accordingly, Longview’s design engineers incorporated more than $500 million in sophisticated back-end emission control systems, including selective catalytic reduction (SCR) for removing NOX from flue gas streams; dry sorbent injection (DSI) for acid mist removal; a pulse jet fabric filter (PJFF) baghouse for particulate removal; and wet fluidized gas desulfurization (FGD) to remove SO2. Combined, the suite of controls also will provide for substantial mercury removal.

Longview will operate an extensive series of continuous emission monitors (CEMs) to demonstrate compliance with stringent air emission limits mandated by West Virginia and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to the typical CEMS for NOX, SO2, CO, CO2 and stack flow, Longview will maintain CEMS for mercury and particulate matter. Longview’s rigorous air emissions monitoring program also will include biweekly fuel analyses, monthly visible emission inspections, and periodic stack testing by third-party contractors. Longview’s emission limits are the lowest imposed by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for a pulverized coal plant to date. These limits require the plant to routinely achieve 98 percent SO2 removal and more than 99 percent particulate removal.

As a mine mouth project, local Northern Appalachian bituminous coal sourced from nearby mines will be delivered to Longview via overland conveyors, reducing local traffic, noise and other potential impacts related to transportation. Longview’s coal will have an average heat content of 10,500-11,000 Btu per pound and up to 2.5 percent sulfur. The project also will use local limestone, averaging 82 percent CaCO3. Combustion byproducts will be transferred to a neighboring ash-management facility less than a mile from the plant. The close proximity to fuel, limestone and ash management will help minimize potential environmental impacts, reduce costs and enhance overall project efficiency.

Environmental Efforts

Privately owned and operated, Longview is managed by a team of industry veterans well-versed in power project development. The project management team takes a proactive, entrepreneurial approach to pending business challenges and opportunities. Prior to first fire, Longview is already exploring options to beneficially reuse coal combustion byproducts, which can reduce the project’s environmental footprint and displace disposal costs with an additional revenue stream.

Longview also is assessing the potential to further improve its water balance. Under typical operating conditions, the plant will require approximately 5,200 gallons per minute, with an effluent of just 11 gallons per minute. Longview is optimistic that upon commissioning, further process enhancements can be achieved to attain zero-liquid discharge status.

As Capitol Hill continues to debate climate control strategies, Longview Power is preparing for increased regulatory demands. Preliminary carbon-capture technology assessments are already underway, together with a detailed geologic survey to help clarify the potential for local sequestration. These analyses will help Longview establish the necessary parameters for the design of a potential demonstration project, which might lead to a commercial-scale, carbon-capture and sequestration (CCS) project.

Longview also has initiated efforts to assess the potential for the co-firing of alternative and renewable fuels, which might further improve the project’s environmental and economic performance. The prospect of a new regional infrastructure for biofuel production, transportation and processing offers appealing potential economic opportunities and new green jobs for traditional coal country.

Longview worked to accommodate local environmentalists during initial permitting. These negotiations resulted in more stringent permit requirements and a commitment to annual funding for regional mitigation projects. Longview agreed to provide $500,000 annually for the first 10 years of operation and $300,000 per year for the remaining duration of the project for regional CO2 reduction and stream mitigation efforts. Further, Longview agreed to purchase and retire 1.1 SO2 allowances per ton of plant emissions to mitigate potential acid deposition and visibility impacts on downwind Class 1 federal lands. These allowances are beyond the SO2 allowances Longview is required to submit to the federal acid rain program. Federal lands benefitting from this initiative include the Shenandoah National Park, Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, Otter Creek Wilderness Area and the James River Face Wilderness Area.

Economic Benefits

It is essential that a new power project positively impacts its host community. A March 2009 economic and fiscal analysis report examined the impacts of the Longview project’s construction and operation on employment, production, labor income and government revenues. The report confirms that Longview produces significant economic and fiscal benefits for the greater Morgantown region.

Despite the national economic downturn, Longview began 2009 with more than 500 construction jobs and 2010 with more than 1,900, adding as much as 2.8 percent to annual employment growth in this area. In total, the four-year construction process will result in more than $551 million in direct expenditures and approximately $313.8 million in labor income in Morgantown and the surrounding communities, generating $23.6 million in additional state and local tax revenues.

The report also found that sustained commercial operations at Longview Power will produce $7.9 million in annual state and local revenues and will increase annual labor income in the region by $43 million. Purchase of coal from local mines will increase regional mining employment by more than 500 jobs.

Recently, the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University published the Morgantown metropolitan statistical area outlook, an economic analysis and forecast for the region. The report determines that Longview’s construction played a significant role in the regional economy’s outperformance of state and national job growth despite the current recession. The analysis also predicts operations will continue to improve the area’s economic growth between 2009 and 2014.

At a cost of $2 billion, Longview Power is the largest private investment in West Virginia history. The project is owned by GenPower Holdings LP, an energy company backed by First Reserve Corp., the oldest and largest private equity firm focused exclusively on energy investments. A consortium headed by Siemens Energy and using Aker Solutions as its primary contractor is responsible for construction of the facility.

Longview Power site: http://longviewpower.com


Joe Douglass is an environmental manager at Longview Power with more than 25 years of experience. He is responsible for developing and implementing plant environmental programs and ensuring compliance with permit and regulatory requirements. He also served as a regulator for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. He earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Ramapo College of New Jersey.

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