The Future of Coal‐Based Generation
By T.L. Headley, American Coal Council
The future of America’s coal industry may be sitting on a ridge just north of Morgantown, West Virginia, quietly building a reputation at the cutting edge of coal‐based power generation.
Commissioned in December 2011 at a cost of $2.1 billion, Longview Power Plant is one of the nation’s three newest coal power plants. It is also the nation’s most efficient and cleanest. Longview is what is known as a mine‐mouth plant – with a dedicated coal mine located literally next door providing its baseload fuel. Longview is also a “co‐fired” plant, meaning it can burn both coal and natural gas, although coal is its primary fuel.
“Longview demonstrates what modern highly efficient clean coal‐fired plant design and operation can be with full environmental compliance,” said Jeff Keffer, President and CEO of Longview Power, LLC said.
Longview features cutting‐edge HELE (High Efficiency/Low Emissions) technology, including a state‐of‐the‐art advanced supercritical boiler, a high‐efficiency steam generator, a best‐in‐class combustion system, and it has zero surface water discharge. One of the interesting features of Longview is that it can burn either coal or natural gas, and is started using natural gas. Despite its capability to burn both fuels, it is essentially a dedicated coal‐fired plant. Sometimes the mix of natural gas has approached 20 percent, but Longview COO Steve Nelson said Longview’s delivered coal price is competitive with natural gas. The company does, however, actively manage the mix of coal and gas in order to take advantage of whichever fuel is cheapest on any given day according to Nelson.