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Coal Gasification: At the Crossroads. Economic Outlook
Thermal Engineering  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-05-17, DOI: 10.1134/s0040601521050049
S. P. Filippov, A. V. Keiko

Abstract

Economic aspects of implementing coal gasification technology are considered. Many objective causes hindering the comparison of economic characteristics of the considered coal gasification technologies are outlined. The energy and economic efficiencies of producing synthesis gas (syngas) from coal are estimated. The factors having the most pronounced effect on the efficiency, such as gasifier type, specific oxygen consumption, and initial fuel cost, are found. According to the calculations, the cost of produced syngas is two to three times higher than the price of natural gas for consumers. Therefore, the use of syngas and hydrogen produced from it for the centralized generation of power and heat will not be economically feasible in the foreseeable future. Integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) units are still not competitive with conventional coal-fired power plants, basically due to high specific capital expenditures, which are responsible for more than 2/3 of the price of delivered electricity. The issues of economic competition for hydrogen production from coal using alternative production processes are discussed in detail. It is demonstrated that hydrogen produced from cheap local coals (in Russia, these are coals from large coal deposits in Siberia and the Far East) can win the competition with hydrogen from natural gas. Nevertheless, activities should be continued to improve coal gasification processes and associated technologies, first of all, oxygen production technologies, to cut down capital and operating expenditures. Further development of coal chemical technologies involves high risks associated with the new global climate policy aimed at a drastic decrease in CO2 emissions and the replacement of fossil fuels in the global fuel and energy balance by renewable energy sources. State support for the development of new coal technologies and for coal chemistry science is necessary to retain the domestic coal industry.