Thursday, 26 November 2015

UK fuel cell partnership advances clean coal plans

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London – UK companies Powerfuel Power Ltd, B9 Coal Ltd and AFC Energy Plc have signed an agreement to install AFC Energy’s fuel cell technology at Powerfuel’s Hatfield site near Doncaster.

The agreement envisages the creation of a joint venture between B9 Coal and Powerfuel to exclusively develop low-carbon fuel cell power stations in the UK.

B9 Coal will install up to 300MW of AFC Energy’s fuel cell technology alongside Powerfuel’s planned integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power station. The agreement also includes an option to rollout the technology worldwide in the future.

“Together we can offer a technically advanced solution to the problem of rising carbon emissions, as well as a practical and commercial template for clean energy generation,” said Alisa Murphy, director B9 Coal Ltd.

Powerfuel is constructing a large-scale IGCC, near zero-emissions power station with carbon capture capability at the Hatfield site. Initial construction will involve an 800 MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) facility optimised for ’syngas’ conversion and operation.

Powerfuel then plans to convert the CCGT plant into a 900 MW IGCC power station fuelled by its extensive coal resources at Hatfield colliery.

The syngas used in the plant can be passed through a clean-up process to produce hydrogen as a feedstock for AFC Energy’s low cost alkaline fuel cells.

AFC Energy’s technology is said to convert hydrogen to emissions-free electricity at 60% electrical efficiency.

“In our IGCC project, the lowest carbon capture technology commercially available today will be demonstrated, but through this agreement and others like it, Powerfuel are looking forward at how the cost can be reduced further.” said Grant Budge, the company’s chief operating officer.

B9 Coal previously signalled its backing for AFC Energy’s technology during its August launch of a consortium bid for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) carbon capture and storage demonstration competition.

The consortium plans to establish a 500MW power plant at Rio Tinto Alcan’s Lynemouth smelter in Northumberland. This will combine AFC Energy’s fuel cell systems with Linc Energy’s underground coal gasification (UCG) technology.

The UCG technology produces syngas which is then passed through a clean-up process, resulting in separate streams of hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

Around 90% the carbon dioxide can then be captured as a by-product at no extra cost. The pure hydrogen is passed through the fuel cell, converting to electricity at 60% efficiency at a projected cost as low as four pence per kWh.

Readers' comments (4)

  • There's a better way.

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  • In what sense is Powerfuel a ‘UK company’?
    They appear to be majority owned and controlled by a Russian Company - Tecalson Investments [Source: Modern Power Systems, September 2008, "Powerfuel plc, which now has two major shareholders, R J Budge (47.75%) and Russian owned Tecalson Investments Ltd (52.25%)].
    If this is in fact the case then calling them a 'UK' company is misleading.

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  • Ed.
    In December 2009 'The Engineer' reported that the EC had confirmed its financial backing for Powerfuel Power Ltd’s plans to build a CCS facility at Hatfield.
    What is the current status of that EU funding? Is it still going forward?

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  • @ Paul
    In late 2009 when the EC funding for Powerfuel was announced, Chris Davies
    MEP, stated that HM Government had promised the EC that they would provide
    additional funds to Powerfuel if the EC made their award. By coincidence
    Hatfield’s local MP is Ed Miliband who at the time of the EC award was also
    Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. On 1st April 2010 Lord
    Hunt of Kings Heath, for the DECC, confirmed to Lord Wallace of Saltaire
    that Powerfuel and the EC had already signed the contract for the Euro
    180million award. However he advised that the award of EC funding did not
    guarantee UK funding; noting that should Powerfuel decide to apply they
    would be considered, with other applicants, for further funding under the
    UK’s CCS demonstration programme. He also noted that there would be
    additional EC CCS awards made in 2011, using set aside proceeds from the
    auctioning of the EU ETS allowances from the NER. According to Russian news
    reports the EC funding is four times more than Tecalson paid for their
    original shareholding. Is Powerfuel also in the running for both UK and
    additional EC funding? Does no one in the European or UK parliaments
    question why the EC chose to fund a Russian company and not a European one?

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