In November the United States Department of Energy (DOE) announced that the Kentucky Pioneer Energy Project, planned for Clark County, Kentucky, will become part of the federal governmentís Clean Coal Technology Program.

United States Energy Secretary B. Richardson approved the use of $78 million in Clean Coal Technology funding as the federal share of the $432-million, 400-megawatt project.

"The Kentucky Pioneer Energy Project will be a showcase facility," Richardson said. "It will employ advanced, clean technology that will benefit the environment, provide low cost power to spur economic growth, and demonstrate how cities can eliminate municipal solid waste by mixing it with coal to produce electricity."

The federal funding is part of agreements reached between the United States Energy Department, Duke Energy Corporation of North Carolina, and Global Energy Inc., the Cincinnati-based parent company of Kentucky Pioneer Energy. Under the agreements, Global Energy will replace Duke Energy as the departmentís industrial partner in a Clean Coal Technology project that had encountered siting difficulties in Southern Illinois.

The Illinois project was to employ much of the same technology as the Kentucky project, and as part of the agreements, the Energy Department will approve "relocating" the project to Eastern Kentucky. Global Energy, in turn, agreed to incorporate several unique features of the Illinois project into the Kentucky project, including tests of advanced fuel cells. The company will also provide The DOE with technology data for the projectís design, construction and operation.

Plans are to use a site near Trapp, Kentucky, originally slated for a conventional coal-fired powerplant nearly 2 decades ago. When the forecasted demand for electricity failed to materialize in the early 1980s, construction at the East Kentucky Power Cooperativeís J.K. Smith site was halted, leaving an excavated tract with plant foundations, an administration building, railroad spur and connections to the electrical grid.

Now the idle 300-acre tract will become the site for a new integrated gasification combined-cycle powerplant.

In the Kentucky project, the gasification process will incorporate an added feature. Municipal solid waste will be collected and combined with coal to form fuel briquettes for the gasification process. Global is reviewing possible "fuel island" locations around the state where the briquettes will be made.

Another high-tech innovation will be the use of a fuel cell in the plantís power generating section. Because no combustion is involved, fuel cells are among the cleanest power technologies now envisioned. In the Kentucky project, some of the synthesis gas will be directed to a 1.25-megawatt molten carbonate fuel cell to be furnished by FuelCell Energy Inc. of Danbury, Connecticut.

When operations begin in 2002, electricity from the plant will be sold to East Kentucky Power Cooperative under a 20-year contract.

The project is the fourth in the Clean Coal Technology Program to demonstrate coal gasification but the first to be partially fueled by municipal solid waste and to employ a fuel cell.

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