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Techno-economic comparison between different technologies for CO2-free power generation

The commercial diffusion of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies is one of the key elements for sustainable energy production, but significant efforts are still needed to optimize and demonstrate CCS technologies in large-scale plants. The main obstacle to the development of CCS is currently the very high capital and operating costs which make investments in CCS severely challenging in terms of the returns.

In this context, this activity aims to compare, from a techno-economic point of view, the most promising power generation technologies for CO2-free power generation. In particular, three main power generation technologies have been considered in their conventional (without CCS) and CO2-free configurations: ultra supercritical (USC) pulverized coal combustion, integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), and oxy-fuel combustion. In addition, a hybrid configuration, commonly called partial oxy-fuel or partial oxy-combustion, has also been analysed.

A technical assessment has been carried out using simulation models implemented through Aspen Plus and Gate-Cycle commercial tools, in collaboration with the University of Cagliari. Moreover, specific experimental tests (both in the lab and at pilot scale) have been made at the Sotacarbo Research Centre to support the analysis.

An economic assessment has been performed using an adequately developed simulation model. This kind of analysis typically presents strong uncertainties, due to the variability of several key parameters (e.g. fuel and CCS prices, determined by fluctuations in the international markets, or improvements in the technologies). Therefore, a sensitivity analysis has also been carried out to determine the effects of these potential fluctuations or improvements on the economic performance of the plant.