Pulverized Coal Technologies
Coal has long been one of the lowest-cost fuels to produce
electricity in the United States. Not only has coal provided
consumers with reliable, affordable power, it has also spurred
economic growth in areas where it is plentiful. Most coal-fired plants
are located in coal-producing regions and are important sources of
jobs and economic stability.
The broadening scope and increasing stringency of environmental
regulations aimed at coal-fueled power generation continue to pose
technical and financial challenges to the electric utility industry.
These challenges are driving decisions to install additional control
technologies or retire existing coal-fired generating units, and are
strongly influencing the planning of new generation projects.
In a pulverized coal (PC) plant, the coal is ground into fine particles
and blown into a furnace where combustion takes place. The heat
from the combustion of coal is used to generate steam to supply a
steam turbine that drives a generator to make electricity.
Subcritical steam generation units operate at pressures such that
water boils first and then is converted to superheated steam. They
are primarily used for intermediate-load and base-load generation.
At supercritical and ultra-supercritical pressures, water is heated to
produce superheated steam without boiling.
Ultra-supercritical (USC) steam generation currently is the most
efficient commercially available technology for producing electricity
from pulverized coal. Advancements in materials have enabled the
safe operation of USC cycles at high temperatures and pressures, resulting in increased unit efficiency.
This increase in efficiency reduces
fuel (coal) consumption, and thereby
reduces emissions, solid waste, water
use and operating costs.
Our decision to build the 600-
megawatt (MW) John W. Turk, Jr.
Power Plant in southwestern
Arkansas exemplifies our continued
commitment to the responsible use of coal as a fuel source. The Turk Plant, completed in 2012, is
the first coal-fired plant AEP built in more than two decades and the only operating U.S. power
plant to use USC technology. Turk is among the nation’s cleanest, most efficient pulverized coal
plants. Turk began commercial operation in
December 2012, after a variety of regulatory
and legal challenges were resolved, and Turk
was officially dedicated in April 2013. AEP
SWEPCO and the Turk Plant received several
esteemed industry awards in 2013, including:
AEP’s John W Turk, Jr. Power Plant
- Edison Electric Institute's (EEI) Edison
Award, the electric power industry's most
prestigious honor, for the completion and
commercial operation of the plant
- Power Engineering Magazine's "Best Coal-fired
Project" for its cleaner, more efficient source of power generation and new technology, and the
magazine's "Plant of the Year" award
- Engineering News Record Texas & Louisiana Magazine's "Best Project Winner" in the
Energy/Industrial category and "Best Safety Award" winner by for its outstanding construction
quality and craftsmanship, and the high-priority safety culture of site management
AEP believes strongly in
the merits of fuel diversity
in generating electricity.
Today, coal-fueled power
plants account for
approximately 50 percent
of AEP's owned
generating capacity, while
natural gas represents 28
percent and nuclear 6
percent. The remaining
capacity comes from wind,
hydro, pumped storage
and other sources,
efficiency. Since 2004,
AEP has added nearly
5,000 MW of natural gas
generating capacity to our
portfolio. Through 2026,
we project that new
additions to the fleet will
likely be natural gasfueled
(wind & solar).