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Costs of Atmospheric Fluidized-Bed Combustors for Electric Power Generation

Atmospheric fluidized-bed combustion (AFBC) is the prevalent technology in boiler design for new power plants. Using plant-level cost data from a sample of commercial AFBC powerplants, we examine the effects of fuel type (scrap coal or standard-grade coal), plant size, and plant completion date on fuel costs, operating costs, capital costs, and levelized total costs per unit of electrical output. We find important relationships between the type of fuel used and unit-output fuel costs (AFBC plants burning scrap are cheaper in fuel per unit of output, despite the lower heat content of scrap) and between operating costs and plant size (larger AFBC plants are cheaper to run). While we find that the advantage in unit fuel costs is not reflected in levelized total costs (which are affected only by plant size), this result may be caused by our procedure for calculating levelized total costs from component costs.

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Energy Specializations: Coal – Markets and Prices; Coal – Policy and Regulation; Electricity – Generation Technologies; Electricity – Policy and Regulation

JEL Codes: Q48: Energy: Government Policy, Q41: Energy: Demand and Supply; Prices, D24: Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity, Q54: Climate; Natural Disasters and Their Management; Global Warming, Q35: Hydrocarbon Resources

Keywords: Electricity generation, Fluidized bed combustors, coal, coal-fired power plants

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol23-No1-6

Published in Volume23, Number 1 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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