Paper presented to the 3rd Southern African Solar Energy Conference, South Africa, 11-13 May, 2015.
Conventional concentrating solar power (CSP) plants typically have a very high levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) compared with coal-fired power stations. To generate 1 kWh of electrical energy from a conventional linear Fresnel CSP plant without a storage application, costs the utility approximately R3,08 , whereas it costs R0,711 to generate the same amount of energy by means of a highly efficient supercritical coal-fired power station, taking carbon tax into consideration. This high LCOE associated with linear Fresnel CSP technology is primarily due to the massive capital investment required per kW installed to construct such a plant along with the relatively low-capacity factors, because of the uncontrollable solar irradiation. It is expected that the LCOE of a hybrid plant in which a concentrating solar thermal (CST) station is integrated with a large-scale supercritical coal-fired power station, will be higher than that of a conventional supercritical coal-fired power station, but much less than that of a conventional CSP plant. The main aim of this study is to calculate and then compare the LCOE of a conventional supercritical coal-fired power station with that of such a station integrated with a linear Fresnel CST field. When the thermal energy generated in the receiver of a CST plant is converted into electrical energy by using the highly efficient regenerative Rankine cycle of a large-scale coal-fired power station, the total capital cost of the solar side of the integrated system will be reduced significantly, compared with the two stations operating independently of one another for common steam turbines, electrical generators and transformers, and transmission lines will be utilised for the integrated plants. The results obtained from the thermodynamic models indicate that if an additional heat exchanger integration option for a 90 MW (peak thermal) fuel-saver solar-augmentation scenario, where an annual average direct normal irradiation limit of 2 141 kWh/m2 is considered, one can expect to produce approximately 4,6 GWh more electricity to the national grid annually than with a normal coal-fired station. This increase in net electricity output is mainly due to the compounded lowered auxiliary power consumption during high solar-irradiation conditions. It is also found that the total annual thermal energy input required from burning pulverised coal is reduced by 110,5 GWh, when approximately 176,5 GWh of solar energy is injected into the coal-fired power station’s regenerative Rankine cycle for the duration of a year. Of the total thermal energy supplied by the solar field, approximately 54,6 GWh is eventually converted into electrical energy. Approximately 22 kT less coal will be required, which will result in 38,7 kT less CO2 emissions and about 7,6 kT less ash production. This electricity generated from the thermal energy supplied by the solar field will produce approximately R8,188m in additional revenue annually from the trade of renewable energy certificates, while the reduced coal consumption will result in an annual fuel saving of about R6,189m. By emitting less CO2 into the atmosphere, the annual carbon tax bill will be reduced by R1,856m, and by supplying additional energy to the national grid, an additional income of approximately R3,037m will be due to the power station. The annual operating and maintenance cost increase resulting from the additional 171 000 m2 solar field, will be in the region of R9,71m. The cost of generating 1 kWh with the solar-augmented coalfired power plant will only be 0,34 cents more expensive at R0,714/kWh than it would be to generate the same energy with a normal supercritical coal-fired power station.