DOE Issues Request for Information on Improving Efficiency, Reliability, and Flexibility of Existing Coal-Based Power Plants

Last week, DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking information on the development of advanced technologies that could improve the overall performance, reliability, and flexibility of the nation’s coal-fueled electricity generating units (EGUs).  The RFI comes after DOE opened an informal comment period in response to FirstEnergy Solutions Corporation’s request for DOE to issue a Federal Power Act Section 202(c) emergency order to require PJM to provide full cost recovery to certain coal-fired and nuclear-fired generators.

DOE’s inquiry covers three areas: (1) advanced technologies for efficiency improvements at full- and/or part-load operations; (2) advanced technologies for improvements to EGU reliability, availability, and maintainability; and (3) advanced technologies for improved operational flexibility.  The RFI explains that it seeks this information in order to ensure that existing coal plants continue to provide low-cost, reliable electricity in the face of increasing integration of intermittent resources like wind:

Accommodating the intermittent, non-dispatchable nature of [variable energy resources] such as wind has resulted in a transformation in how the existing fleet of US power plants is operated, with plants originally designed to provide baseload electricity now being operated as load-following and/or back-up to intermittent resources. The ability for power plants to be operated flexibly is becoming increasingly important. Coal plants initially designed for baseload operations are now being subjected to sub-optimal operating conditions that are leading to decreased overall efficiency and, if subject to prolonged and rapid cycling, are expected to become less reliable with increased risk for unplanned outages.

Responses to the RFI must be submitted electronically to with the subject line “DE-FOA-0001937 – RFI” no later than 8:00pm (ET) on June 22, 2018.

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