Duke's Edwardsport IGCC Plant: Myth and Reality

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Duke Says... The Reality is...
Coal is cheap. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average price of coal has been going up over the past several years. At the end of 2007, Illinois Basin coal was $33.50 per ton. At the end of 2008, it was $78 per ton.
Duke expects their customers' demand for electricity to grow by about 0.4% per year, and they want to build this gasified coal power plant to meet the expected demand. Duke has not seriously considered energy efficiency as an alternative. Efficiency could be deployed much more quickly than a new power plant can be built, and can reduce demand by about 1% per year, which would meet or exceed Duke’s needs. Efficiency is by far the cheapest form of energy at 3¢ per kilowatt hour. Also, in November, 2008, Duke told the Wall Street Journal that their demand for electricity in the Midwest has decreased by 9%.
Duke has stated that wind energy is not yet economically attractive on a utility scale within the Duke Energy Indiana territory. The cost of electricity produced from wind turbines averages at about 5¢ per kilowatt hour and continues to drop. Conversely, IGCC technology with carbon capture costs about 13¢ per kilowatt hour, and since it is still in the developmental phase of its existence, costs continue to rise. Additionally, the term “cost” refers only to market prices, but does not include the external costs due to the damage of the environment and public health associated with burning coal in any form.
Duke claims that an IGCC power plant will reduce emissions compared to the plants that will be shut down. While the IGCC technology will reduce some emissions, it will increase others because it will be operating much more frequently than the power plants that will be shut down.
  • Lead emissions will increase by 14,555%
  • Carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 785%
  • Carbon monoxide emissions will increase by 1,480%
  • Particulate matter emissions will increase by 297%
  • Volatile organic compounds emissions will increase by 678%
Duke claims that the IGCC power plant will have the potential to capture carbon dioxide. Potential is a far cry from reality. While Duke is touting the ability to capture carbon, they are proposing to build the plant without it. They state that they will add carbon capture equipment later when changes occur in the federal regulations governing carbon dioxide emissions. Even then, they will only add the carbon capture equipment if it proves to be less expensive than simply paying for carbon dioxide allowances, defeating the stated purpose of reducing carbon emissions. What they are not saying is that the cost of carbon dioxide capture will increase the cost of the plant by 37% and reduce the efficiency of the plant by 20%!