Study of Supercritical Coal Fired Power Plant Dynamic Responses and Control for Grid Code Compliance

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


By 2015, the UK is expected to face an electrical power shortage of over 20GW, based on projected economic growth and projected life expectancy of a number of existing power plants. There is currently an exceptionally wide variety of new generation technologies being considered. Nuclear power generation will take a long time from build to generation; in fact, the earliest estimated time of generation from new nuclear power stations would be 2018. Renewable energy alone is not capable of generating enough electricity to fill this gap. Around 40% of the current electricity is generated by gas/oil in the UK, but the price of gas/oil faces a huge fluctuations and uncertainty. So gas/oil is not the suitable choice to fill the big electricity generation capacity gap. To meet the various requirements in electricity demand, environment, finance and performance, coal fired power generation is really in need, actually the realistic choice, for compensating the generation gap. Plans have been made for new coal-fired power stations to be built in the UK in the near future. In China, more than 70% of electricity is currently generated by Coal. New coal fired power stations bring into generation almost every month in China. In American, 335,830MW electricity is generated by coal. It is likely that coal remains a dominant fuel for electricity generation from many years to come. Coal is, no doubt, playing an important role in electrical power generation but we must make it cleaner. Supercritical coal fired plant technology is one of the leading options with improved efficiency and hence reduced CO2 emissions per unit of electrical energy generated. Indeed, power plants using supercritical generation have energy efficiency up to 46%, around 10% above current coal fired power plants. On the other hand, this technology costs less than other clean coal technologies and can be fully integrated with appropriate CO2 capture technology in a timely manner. In addition to higher energy efficiency, lower emission levels for supercritical plants are achieved by using well-proven emission control technologies. However, power plants adopting supercritical boilers face great challenges from the UK National Grid Code (NGC) compliance. The UK grid code is far more demanding than in other European countries due to the relatively small scale of the UK electricity network. The most significant issue for a supercritical steam plant is the absence of the stored energy provided by the drum of a conventional plant. As a result the plant would struggle to produce the 10% frequency response requirement in the Grid Code quickly enough Ensuring NGC compliance for supercritical boiler power generation is an important pre-requisite for gaining acceptance in the UK for this highly promising cleaner coal technology. The generation companies have already proposed the Grid Code review request to NGC for the possibility of grid code change to accept supercritical plant There is an urgent demand to conduct the whole process modelling and simulation study to get a clearer picture of the dynamic responses of the supercritical coal fired power plant and to study the feasible strategy to improve the dynamic responses. Also, it is essential to establish the university based research capacity in the UK to provide research solutions in response to the challenges arising from adopting supercritical technology in electrical power generation and also to provide the training needed for future electrical power engineers. Currently, no supercritical or ultra-supercritical boilers operate in the UK, which make it difficult for UK researchers alone to conduct the above proposed study. There are more than 400 such units worldwide, with China operating 24 of them and more to be built. So this proposal is proposed to collaborate with Chinese top universities for this challenging research.


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/G062889/1 01/12/2009 10/01/2011 £725,442
EP/G062889/2 Transfer EP/G062889/1 01/02/2011 15/08/2014 £593,660
Description The key findings are:

Current supercritical coal fired power plant dynamics can satisfy partial requirement of UK grid code. The range of operation is given.

Optimal control can improve the dynamic responses so there is possibility to improve supercritical power plant performance to meet the requirement of Grid Code.
Exploitation Route The findings can be used by industrial sectors and also academic community. The results have been used for further study on CCGT power plant and renewable energy power generation.
Sectors Education,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description A set of presentation slides are prepared for non-academic and technical audience. The slides explain why clean coal technology is needed, what clean coal technologies are, how the technologies work for the purpose. A number of lectures were delivered to publics.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Education,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Societal

Description Flexible and Efficient Power Plant: Flex-E-Plant
Amount £1,997,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K021095/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2013 
End 02/2018
Description E.ON 
Organisation E ON
Department E ON Technologies
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Our research outcome informs E.ON whether the supercritical power plant dynamic responses can meet the GB Grid Code requirement. Also, our study has lead to optimal control to improve the plant operation performance.
Collaborator Contribution E.ON engineers/specialists gave us very helpful advice in the research and also contribute to the project cost.
Impact The outcome of the project has led to multiple publications and also internal reports to industrial partner directly. The software developed via this project is still actively used within the research group.
Start Year 2010
Description Industry Open day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The project has developed a supercritical coal fired power plant simulation platform. The event is to invite all the relevant industrial representatives to give them a demonstration for what the software can do.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012