The EPA’s coal ash rules – while tested severely by the Supreme Court – are still set to go into effect on October 14th, and could spell dark days for many coal-fired power plants across the country.
One power plant in Missouri is currently working on a solution to avoid closing and continue producing power.
The municipal plant in Columbia, MO, which currently produces six percent of the town’s energy consumption, is scheduled to cease burning of coal by the October deadline, per the EPA’s regulation. Under the regulation, plants that use landfills to store coal ash must close these landfills if they cannot meet new regulations for maintaining structural integrity, or if the landfill contaminates local groundwater.
This is the case for the Columbia plant, hence its cessation of coal activities at the plant before October. But one potential solution to replace this loss of production is to convert the plant’s coal-fired boilers to biomass boilers.
Converting to Biomass
Biomass has become one of the fastest-growing alternatives to coal in the nation. While it offers roughly half as much heat energy on a pound-for-pound basis as coal, it is cleaner and thus doesn’t run afoul of the EPA. Costs have also declined, which can make biomass more affordable in some respects.
The plant in Columbia is still evaluating this decision and is trying to figure out what it would take to convert the plant’s coal-fired boilers to biomass boilers. In the meantime, a nitric oxide reduction upgrade for their natural gas boilers will help make up the difference.
Whether or not they choose to go with biomass, Columbia’s municipal plant does offer a potential way forward for coal-fired plants – biomass conversion – that are set to be curtailed or closed starting in October. Retrofitting a plant with equipment and systems that can handle biomass is a challenge, but one that current technology is more than equipped to deal with.
Finding Biomass Boiler Suppliers
Interested in what it takes to fully upgrade a power plant to produce biomass-fueled energy? One thing that is required is a partner in the form of biomass boiler suppliers who can help you make the transition with the right equipment. Contact the biomass boiler suppliers at ProcessBarron today to learn more.