The US state of Delaware’s most out-of-date coal-burning CHP plant is to convert to cleaner natural gas through a state-assisted US$26.5 million project.

Under the newly approved plan, NRG Dover will voluntarily replace a small coal-fired boiler with an upgraded system of turbines that will burn natural gas and use new steam recovery and pollution control systems.

Once the project is complete, the more-than 100 MW plant is expected to produce about 30% more electricity with the same amount of heat, while releasing far lower polluting emissions. The plant also has an 88 MW combustion turbine.

The 28-year-old NRG Dover operation sells wholesale power on the regional PJM grid and also provides industrial steam to adjacent operations at Kraft Foods and Procter & Gamble.

Although Delaware ordered 25 MW and larger plants to clean up years ago, the 18 MW, coal-fired portion of NRG Dover’s system escaped mandatory reforms because of its relatively small size.

Another former coal-burning complex in east Wilmington, Delaware, has already announced conversion to natural gas.

The Dover project is expected to begin in spring 2012 and be completed in 2013.

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