The Deputy Chairman of the VERBUND Board of Management, responsible also for operation, research and environment at Austria’s leading electrical power company, continued by saying that “Thus the power plant sites and the associated jobs could be safeguarded in the long term“.
With coal it is impossible to achieve power production costs compatible with the market conditions in the liberalized power market in Central Europe at present. To avoid closures, VERBUND did intensive research on the possibilities of incinerating also secondary fuels in the group’s five thermal power plants.
“Substituting part of the coal would not only reduce the fuel costs considerably”, says Mr. Schroefelbauer, “but also a reduction in the emission of climate-relevant CO2 would be achieved.“
Previous trials showed that from an engineering point of view the thermal power plants are excellently suitable for utilizing secondary fuels. The modern flue-gas cleaning installations fully meet the strict legal requirements. Due to the plants’ high electric efficiency - over 40 % - and also with the Kyoto goal in mind, the utilization of the energy content of secondary fuels makes good economic as well as ecological sense.
A regulation banning the disposal of waste of high calorific value forms the legal background to the involvement in the area of waste incineration. This regulation will come into effect in Austria in 2004. Due to the lack of thermal recycling capacity increased utilization of waste of high calorific value in power plants is the obvious thing to do. On the way to thermal utilization the volume to be disposed of is reduced, and the climate is protected in several respects. Part of the coal is substituted by biogenic fuel; the landfill gas quantity – primarily greenhouse-relevant methane – is also reduced.
In Austria, approx. 9.6 million tons of waste of high calorific value are produced every year, of which approx. 2.6 million t are usable for incineration in thermal power plants. The officially approved capacity in the VERBUND thermal power plants amounts to 114,700 tons per year at present.
“A further increase in utilization of waste is not possible without adapting the boiler plants”, said Mr. Schroefelbauer. The required investments can only be made, however, if higher cost-effectiveness is achieved. The prerequisite for making this way of waste utilization in thermal power plants cost-effective is the recognition of power produced from biogenic fuel as ecopower.
The VERBUND researchers investigated the incineration of secondary fuel in thermal power plants intensively in an interdisciplinary research project the cost of which amounted to approx. 20 million ATS (1.45 million EUR). The project was realized in cooperation with the waste disposal industry and another eight partners from research and industry.
“The result of a year and a half of research was that at the site of the St. Andrae power plant in Carinthia, for example, the utilization of secondary fuels in a fluidized-bed boiler would make sense”, explained Dr. Karl Heinz Gruber, General Manager of VERBUND-Umwelttechnik GmbH. In this planned thermal reprocessing plant approx. 350,000 tons of secondary fuel could be put to use. This would safeguard efficient operation and the jobs in the long run.
Mr. Gruber concluded by saying that “With sustainable waste management and environmental protection in mind the energy content of waste can and should be utilized for the production of electric power and heat”.