Coal will continue to be a major fuel source for Asian electric power production

Coal will continue to be a major fuel source for Asian electric power production

Douglas J. Smith,

Managing Editor

The increasing use of coal for electric power generation in Indonesia and several other Asian countries could drive up coal demand in the region, according to Graeme Robertson, Indonesian Coal Mining Association vice president, speaking at the recent Australian-Indonesian business conference in Jakarta.

It is expected that by 2002 a further 7,000 MW of new coal-fired capacity will have been added in Indonesia. Currently the demand for coal is 11 million tons per year (TPY). It is predicted to increase to 50 million tons by 2002. Out of the 50 million tons, electric utilities will use 20 million TPY for electric power generation. South Korea also plans to add 14,000 MW of new coal-fired capacity by 2006. Robertson said that the demand for coal for electric generation in other parts of Asia-China, India, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand–is projected to reach 25.4 million TPY by 1999 and 63 TPY by 2002.

Although coal will not fuel all of the new electric capacity being added in Asia, it is still expected to be the dominant fuel for electric power production in the foreseeable future. However, pollution from coal-fired electric power plants is a major concern in the region, and electric utilities are looking at ways to burn coal cleanly.

One of Asia`s major electric utilities, Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), has a program for installing 20 500 MW standardized coal-fired power plants over the next several years. However, these plants have been designed to reduce the emissions of NOx and SO2, thus making them more environmentally friendly.

To reduce emissions the Korean plants will include high-efficiency precipitators and ash collectors, flue gas desulfurization and low NOx design boilers and firing equipment. Likewise, to minimize the adverse affects of warm water discharge from the plant, deep water intakes and discharges will be constructed.

In 1996, KEPCO`s Taean 1 and 2 coal-fired power plant was recognized by Power Engineering and Power Engineering International magazines when the plant was chosen to receive a Project of the Year award for its environmentally friendly design.

Because of environmental concerns, Asian electric utilities are installing clean coal technologies such as fluidized-bed boilers. China, with a need to add thousands of megawatts of new capacity, is one country that is actively constructing power plants using fluidized-bed combustion. David J. Parham, Foster Wheeler`s vice president in China, said that circulating fluidized-bed boilers are expected to play an increasing role in China`s future power generation mix. Environmental concerns and fuel flexibility are becoming increasingly important factors in any choice of equipment by the Chinese, Parham said.

Throughout Asia the need for new electric capacity is tremendous and with Asian having vast reserves of coal, it will continue to be one of the major fuels. However, with the need to protect the environment, developers and owners of electric power plants should follow KEPCO`s example and make sure that future coal-fired power plants are designed to limit the amount of pollution produced.

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