This report summarises state-of-the-art coal-based power technologies which are not fully yet commercial, focusing on where these systems could be most suited, such as regions with challenging fuel resources/characteristics, capacity needs, and water availability. The technologies studied are advanced ultrasupercritical combustion (AUSC), integrated gasification combined cycles (IGCC), polygeneration, oxyfuel combustion, supercritical CO2 systems, and hybrid systems. A summary is provided of the current status of each advanced concept in relation to full-scale commercial application. The report identifies the technology gaps that need to be addressed for successful deployment along with an outline of the specific research, testing or demonstration which is required to address each gap.
All of the technologies reviewed in this report need further investment in terms of time and resources to be considered fully market-ready. In terms of proximity to commercialisation, IGCC leads the way with several full-scale demonstration plants completed and more under construction. Advancement of polygeneration, while technically achievable, will depend on suitable local markets. AUSC is a step up in pressure and temperature from available USC systems. However, advances in metal alloys are required to ensure these plants are technically viable. For oxyfuel combustion to move beyond small-scale demonstration, there will need to be technical advances and increased assurance that the technology can rival standard pulverised coal-fired systems with carbon capture in terms of power output and cost. Supercritical CO2 systems are relatively new concepts but are moving towards demonstration scale faster than most other advanced coal-based technologies. Stationary fuel cells are expensive but commercial, although not yet running on coal. However, distinct advances in theoretical and materials chemistry will need to be made before coal-based fuel cells reach the market. The success of hybrid systems, combining nuclear and renewable sources with coal plants, will be situation specific and could be useful in areas with suitable infrastructure and commercial support.
The report summarises the technological advances required to move new coal-based technologies to commercial scale but also considers non-technical factors such as funding and national policies which can ultimately determine where these technologies may succeed.