JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – As more renewable energy capacity is added globally, thermal coal-fired power stations are likely to, in future, operate only for short periods of time to balance the shortfall in electricity when renewable capacity is not available, University of Johannesburg professor Bilainu Oboirien said at the Fossil Fuel Foundation’s Clean Coal Technologies conference, on Wednesday.
He noted, however, that the start-up costs of coal power stations during load cycling can be high and suggested that those costs can be reduced through the use of cheap alternative fuels.
In this regard, Oboirien and some of his colleagues have embarked on the South Africa–Poland project, which seeks to investigate the use of alternative fuels to reduce the high start-up cost of coal boilers in South Africa and Poland.
There are, however, legislative, technological and environmental issues that need to be considered.
“The properties of selected liquid fuels will be determined to analyse their potential application in the energy system. Some of the selected fuels will be investigated using a technical scale combustion chamber with a capacity of 150 kW,” Oboirien noted.
Overall, he believes the outcome of the study will help to shape the required policy that will be needed in the transition from a largely coal-based energy system, to one with a significant renewable energy contribution.