DOE - Fossil Energy Techline - Issued on:  January 10, 1997

Florida Clean Coal Plant Showcases Clean, Efficient Power for 21st Century

Energy Secretary O'Leary Says New Plant Will "Help Redefine the World's Use of Coal"

Lakeland, FL - The U.S. electric utility industry today took a major step into the next millennium of clean, high-efficiency electricity from coal with the dedication in Florida of one of the world's cleanest and most advanced coal power plants.

Dedication of the new clean coal technology plant at Tampa Electric Company's Polk Power Station near Lakeland, FL, took place on the closing day of the Department of Energy's week-long Clean Coal Technology Conference in nearby Tampa. With the theme of "Powering the Next Millennium," the international conference attracted more than 400 of the world's experts in high-technology clean coal technology processes.

Outgoing Secretary of Energy Hazel R. O'Leary, who keynoted the final session of the conference earlier in the day, congratulated Tampa Electric Company and TECO Power Service Corporation for the successful startup of a facility she said "will help redefine the world's use of coal."

Speaking at the dedication, O'Leary said "With this technology, we can show the world how to use its wealth of coal to power economic growth without endangering the environment. It will herald a new era for clean energy from coal."

The 250-megawatt power facility uses an advanced technology called "integrated gasification combined cycle." Much cleaner than conventional coal-burning boilers, the technology first turns coal into a gas, then filters out acid-rain and smog-causing impurities.

The technology is also more efficient at generating electricity from coal, operating at efficiencies approaching 40% compared to conventional power plants which are about 33 percent efficient. Higher efficiencies mean that fuel is conserved and greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide are held to a minimum. A more efficient plant also keeps costs to consumers as low as possible.

The new clean coal facility will be the centerpiece of Tampa Electric's 1,150-megawatt Polk Power Station, to be built on land previously mined for phosphates. A third of the 4,400-acre site will be converted to a wetlands habitat for wildlife.

The nearly $600 million project is receiving $143 million from the Energy Department with the remainder supplied by Tampa Electric Company and the project's industrial partners.

Dedication of the plant also marks a significant milestone in the Department of Energy's 12-year-old Clean Coal Technology Program. The Polk Power Station is one of 40 first-of-a-kind projects across the country that are being built and tested with joint government-industry financing. It is in a group of Clean Coal Technology projects that are demonstrating advanced methods for generating electricity from coal in a way that addresses the growing concern over global climate change.

Highly Efficient and Environmentally Exceptional

At Tampa's Polk County plant, a Texaco-supplied pressurized,oxygen blown, entrained flow gasifier will convert coal into a combustible gas. General Electric's hot gas cleanup system will remove more than 94% of the sulfur pollutants and particulates, and the gas will be burned in a General Electric advanced combustion gas turbine to generate electricity. Exhaust heat from the gas turbine will be recovered to produce steam for a steam turbine generator. It is this combined cycle using two turbines that accounts for the technology's high efficiencies.

The Polk Power Station is the first in the Nation to use this advanced technology in a new "grassroots" power plant. A similar facility, commissioned just over a year ago in Indiana, installed comparable technology in an existing power plant.

The Polk Power project also will provide the first test of a "hot gas cleanup" system. Designed to operate at the elevated temperatures of the gases exiting the coal gasifier, the new system helps keep power plant efficiencies high. Older, conventional cleanup systems must cool the gas before removing pollutants, a step that robs efficiency.

The new cleanup system uses an intermittently moving bed of metal oxide-based sorbent to remove sulfur-bearing compounds and residual dust from the "syngas" produced by the gasifier. The technology developed by General Electric will process about 10% of the syngas as part of the first-of-a-kind test program. The remainder of the gas will be cleaned by more conventional means.

An additional environmental benefit of the Tampa project is that, instead of landfill wastes, the process produces sulfur, sulfuric acid, and solidified slag by-products that can be sold in the marketplace.

With new environmental standards in effect in 2000, utilities will be looking for the cleanest, most efficient power technologies available. If the Tampa Electric project is successful, it will give utilities a technology that is:

  • Environmentally superior to older coal-based power generation technologies.

  • Capable of being installed in modules of varying outputs, sized to match power demands much more precisely than the much larger, traditional coal-fired boiler power stations.

  • Fuel-flexible, capable of using a wide variety of coals without impairing performance.

  • Economical, producing lower cost electricity to consumers, because of lower capital costs and higher generating efficiencies.

In addition to providing the base technology for new plants, the coal gasification technology can be installed in existing plants, where gasification equipment can be integrated with existing steam-generating facilities.

Throughout the United States, particularly in the Midwest and East, coal-fired utility boilers currently producing a total of over 95,000 megawatts will be more than 30 years old in 1996. Many of these aging plants are candidates for repowering, using the technology to be demonstrated by Tampa Electric.

The Energy Department's Office of Fossil Energy and the Morgantown office of its Federal Energy Technology Center are overseeing the Federal investment in the project.

- End of TechLine -

Technical Information Contact:
Nelson Rekos, DOE Federal Energy Technology Center, (304) 285-4066

Program Information Contact:
Hattie C. Wolfe, DOE Office of Fossil Energy, (202) 586-6503, e-mail: