Clean coal plant stops using coal after 200 days

elistan

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 30, 2007
979
441
Denver/Boulder, CO
Primary source:
http://mississippipowernews.com/2017/06/28/southern-company-and-mississippi-power-announce-suspension-of-gasification-operations/

ars writeups:
https://arstechnica.com/business/2017/06/regulators-suggest-7-5-billion-coal-gasifier-facility-give-up-burn-natural-gas/
https://arstechnica.com/business/2017/06/7-5-billion-kemper-power-plant-suspends-coal-gasification/

Basically, due to technical issues (leaks and ash buildup) and economic issues ($7.5 billion spent, $4 billion over budget, the cost of coal, and not allowed to raise electric charge rates) the power plant has gone back to burning standard natural gas to generate electricity. (Apparently it's always burned gas, it's just the 'clean coal' bit of it that was being developed and finally tried as of last year.)

Of course, it's just one plant, one project, without any proven designs to choose from, so who knows, maybe clean coal will become a thing - but then, there's stats like these from the IEA: "$80 billion has been invested in renewable energy compared with $20 billion in CCS.” [Carbon Capture and Storage] Even if clean coal might be viable after enough research and investment, it feels like it's been irreversibly passed by at this point.
 

Stefan johansson

macrumors 65816
Apr 13, 2017
1,294
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Sweden
Good idea,but sometimes when I see these attempts to make methane gas look like something "environmentally clean" I just wonder if people know that methane,or as it's called "nature gas" is almost as bad as burning petrol? If it's only the global warming that's a big issue,the cleanest power systems are hydroelectric plants like the one at the Niagara power station,or nuclear power.
 

Rigby

macrumors 601
Aug 5, 2008
4,741
3,689
San Jose, CA
This is a pattern. Billions have been spent, but so far there hasn't been a single successful project demonstrating the viability of scalable carbon capture (see e.g. here). With the current state of the technology, coal is about as "clean" as a VW diesel. It would be great if it worked, particularly for use in developing countries that still heavily depend on coal, but it will probably take decades to get there if it's possible at all. By then, renewables will have an even greater cost advantage than they already do.
 
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rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
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PHX, AZ.
Yucca Mountain is a good plan as well. The issues no one wants the material transported through their state on rail cars to get it there.
The funny thing is, they have no issues with transporting nuclear waste to New Mexico's WIPP storage facility.
Granted WIPP is undergoing a cleanup after some morons at Los Alamos chose to use an organic material to cleanup waste instead of the usual mineral based one (a.k.a. kitty litter. yes, they used actual kitty litter). The organic material expanded and blew a container of plutonium contaminated foam that contaminated 35% of the facility.
 
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HEK

macrumors 68040
Sep 24, 2013
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Isn't clean -- what do we do with the radioactive waste?
You can burn up all nuclear waste as well as nuclear weapons warheads in Thorium fueled Metal Salt Reactors. We can buy em from China soon. They along with India, Russia and other counties are working on them. We stopped development back in Nixon administration.

We went water cooled pressure reactors, and then fast breeders to produce weapons grade Plutonium for more bombs.
 

bradl

macrumors 601
Jun 16, 2008
4,006
11,823
Yucca Mountain is a good plan as well. The issues no one wants the material transported through their state on rail cars to get it there.
The funny thing is, they have no issues with transporting nuclear waste to New Mexico's WIPP storage facility.
Granted WIPP is undergoing a cleanup after some morons at Los Alamos chose to use an organic material to cleanup waste instead of the usual mineral based one (a.k.a. kitty litter. yes, they used actual kitty litter). The organic material expanded and blew a container of plutonium contaminated foam that contaminated 35% of the facility.
Yucca Mountain was a horrible plan.

Bury the waste in the desert, less than 100 miles from a very populated area and tourist trap (Las Vegas, where I live), in a very earthquake prone zone?

Definitely not a good idea no matter how anyone puts it.

BL.
 

rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
3,483
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PHX, AZ.
Yucca Mountain was a horrible plan.

Bury the waste in the desert, less than 100 miles from a very populated area and tourist trap (Las Vegas, where I live), in a very earthquake prone zone?

Definitely not a good idea no matter how anyone puts it.

BL.
Wrong... it was one of the most studied geological areas in the world. Hell even the EPA agreed the site was perfect for nuclear waste storage. USGS approved the plan based on the historical earthquake data the showed there would be no impact to the site or water table.
They shut it down over political pressure, not safety issues. Obama admin defunded it in 2010 and forced it to close.
 

bradl

macrumors 601
Jun 16, 2008
4,006
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Wrong... it was one of the most studied geological areas in the world. Hell even the EPA agreed the site was perfect for nuclear waste storage. USGS approved the plan based on the historical earthquake data the showed there would be no impact to the site or water table.
They shut it down over political pressure, not safety issues. Obama admin defunded it in 2010 and forced it to close.
I lived near it, and I can tell you from all of the local media outlets, it was a sore on the area and could have been much much worse. And combined with how the entire town shook from the Ludlow earthquake just south of Barstow, it was much worse than anyone in Washington estimated.

BL.
 

rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
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I lived near it, and I can tell you from all of the local media outlets, it was a sore on the area and could have been much much worse. And combined with how the entire town shook from the Ludlow earthquake just south of Barstow, it was much worse than anyone in Washington estimated.

BL.
Like I said... it was closed for political reasons, not for safety reasons.
The Yucca facility suffered no damage from any earthquakes. The ridge it's in is geologically stable.
Interesting thing is it may not be active, but the DOE and NRC are still required to keep it around under federal law.

I just checked and it looks like the House Energy and Commerce committee has voted 2 days ago to move forward with Yucca via a bipartisan bill. (Link)

New Mexico's WIPP facility wasn't designed for reactor waste. It's where all the weapons grade crap goes once it's decommissioned.
 
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bradl

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Jun 16, 2008
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Like I said... it was closed for political reasons, not for safety reasons.
The Yucca facility suffered no damage from any earthquakes. The ridge it's in is geologically stable.
Interesting thing is it may not be active, but the DOE and NRC are still required to keep it around under federal law.

I just checked and it looks like the House Energy and Commerce committee has voted 2 days ago to move forward with Yucca via a bipartisan bill. (Link)

New Mexico's WIPP facility wasn't designed for reactor waste. It's where all the weapons grade crap goes once it's decommissioned.
WIPP isn't in an earthquake zone, and while one may think that it is "stable", we have constant small quakes between 1.0 and 5.0 on the Ricter scale nearly every day. That isn't anywhere near stable, which makes it boil down to what is tolerable. Again, if a quake 150 miles away can cause the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and Stratosphere towers to shake like they're bellydancing, the area is no where near stable to hold anything volatile like radioactive waste.

BL.
 

localoid

macrumors 68020
Feb 20, 2007
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America's Third World
...Of course, it's just one plant, one project, without any proven designs to choose from, so who knows, maybe clean coal will become a thing - but then, there's stats like these from the IEA: "$80 billion has been invested in renewable energy compared with $20 billion in CCS.” [Carbon Capture and Storage] Even if clean coal might be viable after enough research and investment, it feels like it's been irreversibly passed by at this point.
Donald Trump may believe it's possible, but "clean coal" is a myth. Coal is not by any stretch of the imagination ever going to be "clean", it will, at best, simply be "slightly less filthy."

But don't take my word for it. Google it yourself: Clean coal isn't clean.
 
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0007776

Suspended
Jul 11, 2006
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Yucca Mountain was a horrible plan.

Bury the waste in the desert, less than 100 miles from a very populated area and tourist trap (Las Vegas, where I live), in a very earthquake prone zone?

Definitely not a good idea no matter how anyone puts it.

BL.
An earthquake big enough to cause a problem for it will kill everyone in Vegas well before they have to worry about radiation.
 
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rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
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WIPP isn't in an earthquake zone, and while one may think that it is "stable", we have constant small quakes between 1.0 and 5.0 on the Ricter scale nearly every day. That isn't anywhere near stable, which makes it boil down to what is tolerable. Again, if a quake 150 miles away can cause the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and Stratosphere towers to shake like they're bellydancing, the area is no where near stable to hold anything volatile like radioactive waste.

BL.
I think you might want to take a refresher on geology and how shock waves travel through different types of rock.
Las Vegas is geologically unstable. Yucca mountain is not.
You do realize the entire Yucca site is already contaminated with nuclear material from all the ABOVE GROUND nuclear testing done in the 50's and 60's.
 
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bradl

macrumors 601
Jun 16, 2008
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I think you might want to take a refresher on geology and how shock waves travel through different types of rock.
Las Vegas is geologically unstable. Yucca mountain is not.
You do realize the entire Yucca site is already contaminated with nuclear material from all the ABOVE GROUND nuclear testing done in the 50's and 60's.
You may also want to have a bit of a refresher in geography as well. The zone covered by Hector Mine (Ludlow) earthquake covered a radius of over 400 miles, which included the towns of San Diego, Barstow, Phoenix (my aunt lives there and felt this in 1999), Las Vegas (my apartment building was shaking like leaves in a tornado during this), and all the way up to Bishop and at the furthest range, Carson City. Yucca Mountain was included in the reports that confirmed the earthquake and aftermaths from it.

The point: The immediate area around Yucca Mountain does not have to be unstable for it to be the victim of the effects of an area that is unstable. That's the problem with being in an earthquake zone.

Oh.. here's some info for you as well, from the research Kenny Guinn's administration concluded at the time:

http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/yucca/nuctome2.htm

http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/yucca/seismo01.htm

Gotta love how "stable" Yucca Mountain is, n'est-ce pas?



BL.
 

hulugu

macrumors 68000
Aug 13, 2003
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I think you might want to take a refresher on geology and how shock waves travel through different types of rock.
Las Vegas is geologically unstable. Yucca mountain is not.
You do realize the entire Yucca site is already contaminated with nuclear material from all the ABOVE GROUND nuclear testing done in the 50's and 60's.
Right. Yucca Mountain is on federal land next to the Nevada Test Site, where the U.S. detonated 928 nuclear weapons from 1951 to 1992, most of them underground.

And, Las Vegas' sits on a sedimentary basin, mostly alluvial deposits from the surrounding mountains. The geology of the valley is far different from the fractured and faulted volcanic tuff that resides in the Yucca Mountains.

That said, the facility may not be as safe as once thought. In 2007, researchers learned that the Bow Ridge fault line ran underneath the facility and was closer than anticipated, requiring managers to shift the storage.
 

rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
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PHX, AZ.
The area that includes Yucca looks pretty damn stable even on the map you provided.
The above ground storage facility could be in a better location.

Earthquake zones are broad, but the composite geological material at any particular location determines how it performs during an earthquake.

Take San Francisco for instance... the monster quake that took out the bay bridge in 1989.
The marina area got the brunt of the damage do the lack of underlying bedrock. The ground acted like water.
Areas closer to the epicenter had less damage due to the underlying geology being more stable.
It's all about the land your standing on during a quake.
[doublepost=1498856123][/doublepost]
That said, the facility may not be as safe as once thought. In 2007, researchers learned that the Bow Ridge fault line ran underneath the facility and was closer than anticipated, requiring managers to shift the storage.
I saw that report... the area is large enough for them to accommodate for the fault line and still be safe.
 

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vrDrew

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Jan 31, 2010
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Good idea,but sometimes when I see these attempts to make methane gas look like something "environmentally clean"
It is certainly true that from the perspective of CO2 emissions (the gas linked to anthropogenic climate change) natural gas plants are only marginally superior to coal-fired ones.

However, when it comes to other emissions, such as sulfur, mercury, and nitrogen. These emissions have a much stronger negative effect on the local environment, being responsible for things such as smog and acid rain.

All power sources have their downsides. Hydro-electric plants, for example. frequently result in the destruction of fish habitat. Here in the US, for instance, the damming of rivers in the Pacific Northwest came very close to destroying the salmon fishery.