How Tech is Making Thermal Power Generation More Sustainable in The Changing Energy Landscape

Energy is not only a basic necessity for humans to survive but an important source for economic development. The adequate supply of energy impacts both citizens and other sectors, especially those that invest in manufacturing. Though pertinent for economic prosperity the production of power possesses several threats to the environment, mostly in the form of emissions, given that it is highly dependent on coal. For decades, countries around the world have been doing their best to curtail energy-led emissions to save the environment.
 
To help streamline this fight against emissions, the United Nations has set ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’ as the 7th Sustainable Developmental Goal (SDG). Besides aiming to provide 39% of the world’s population which has no access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking with sustainable options by 2030, this SDG also focuses on sprucing energy production. In the next decade, countries will continue to work towards a substantial increase in the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and building indigenous infrastructure for energy efficiency.
 
As a result, the energy landscape of countries around the world, including that of India has undergone a massive transformation. India is at the forefront of tackling climate change and has repeatedly made a strong case for its mitigation. As a progressive economy, the focus has always been on sustainable development, with the government strongly promoting green energy and expanding the share of renewable energy with the ambitious goal of achieving 175 GW capacity by 2022. Furthermore, to extend their reach of emissions control, the government, among other things, has defined new NOx emission levels for thermal power plants in India to be achieved by 2022. However, hundreds of coal-fired boilers in the country still need to be modified, to comply with the new emission regulation.
 
Technological intervention
 
Like in most sectors, the advent of technology has been beneficial for overcoming challenges. It has been instrumental in making thermal power generation more sustainable in this changing energy landscape. For instance, over the last 30 years, the European Union has periodically tightened the NOx emission regulation for thermal power plants.
 
Tens of energy producers in the region have invested in implementing the primary low-NOx solution which reduces nitrogen oxide emissions at thermal combustion power plants in a manner that the formation of nitrogen compounds is reduced by air and fuel staging. The primary part of the flame doesn't get enough air, creating the hydrocarbon radicals decreasing the NOx that is formed in the combustion process. The implementation of low-NOx combustion refurbishments of pulverized coal-fired combustion plants globally proves, that primary methods are the most cost and time-effective way of achieving significant NOx emission reductions. The low-NOx burners and other combustion technology-related modifications are built to achieve a high combustion efficiency as well as to minimize slagging, high-temperature corrosion and unburnt carbon.
 
The implementation of advanced low-NOx technology at the primary source of emissions i.e. at the boiler combustion will not only reduce emissions but also lower operating and maintenance costs compared to alternative NOx reduction methods and consequently, the overall life-cycle costs are kept at a minimum.
 
The key benefits of this technology include Simplified concept & construction, Reduced investment costs, Low O&M costs, Short implementation period, Reliable & safe operation, No by-products for disposal and Fuel flexibility.
 
How it can help thermal power plants in India
 
Contributing around 63% to the country’s energy distribution mix, thermal power is going to be a mainstay in India’s energy mix for the next 30 years. India has the target to reduce NOx emissions in only five years to the same level as Europe did in 30 years. With the latest sophisticated primary NOx reduction technology, including burner modification and over firing system (OFA), the desired NOx emission levels given by Indian regulation can also be met at a local power plant in India. Though implementing the Primary Low-NOx solution for one boiler takes months as resources to implement the modifications are limited, it is a cost-efficient option that can help coal-fired thermal power plants be ready on time. 
| Article published on 18/07/2019 by Moulin

 
 
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