The Benefits Print Page

IGCC is becoming the base load technology of choice, because coal-fueled IGCC plants reduce emissions by 2/3 from the next cleanest coal-fueled technology, supercritical pulverized coal (SCPC) plants, and they generate energy at lower, more stable prices than plants that depend on an increasingly expensive supply of natural gas.

IGCC plants are superior to others in almost every respect:

Energy Security

  • The U.S. Department of Energy has deemed IGCC technology "crucial" both for securing a domestic energy supply and for providing "enormous environmental performance gains."
  • Coal gasification can produce a wide variety of useful industrial byproducts, including hydrogen for vehicles and fuel cells to support a transition to a hydrogen economy, syngas that can be substituted for natural gas in industrial processes, a pipeline-quality natural gas substitute, and liquid transportation fuels.
  • Greater reliance on domestic coal will decrease dependence on foreign sources of fuel.
  • The supply of domestic coal is abundant.

Environmentally Responsible

  • Beyond the immediate environmental benefits of reducing emissions of criteria pollutants and mercury, IGCC technology provides a pathway to cost-effective capture of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary greenhouse gas produced by all fossil fuel-fired power plants.

  • The rate at which air pollutants are emitted from IGCC plants is 2/3 less than those of recently permitted SCPC plants having the most modern environmental controls.

  • Pre-combustion cleaning processes used to remove air pollutants at IGCC plants produce marketable by-products. Processes used by conventional coal-fired technologies generally produce solid waste that requires landfilling.

  • Gasification is the cleanest method of converting coal into power, making it superior to other coal technologies such as pulverized coal and fluidized bed boilers with regard to both environmental performance and efficiency.

  • IGCC's ability to efficiently remove air pollutants prior to the combustion process and its capability to capture CO2 makes it flexible to adapt to ever-tightening emission limits.

Cost Effective

  • The ongoing expense of retrofitting less flexible conventional coal plants for ever-tightening environmental regulations will make the life cycle cost of IGCC lower than the costs of a SCPC plant.
  • Decreasing natural gas supplies coupled with an increase in demand have driven the price of natural gas sharply higher and created volatility in the gas market. Supplies are not increasing but demand is, and experts agree this trend is likely to continue.

Proven Technology

  • Coal gasification is not a new technology.  It has been in commercial industrial application in the petrochemical industry for many decades, and has been reliably demonstrated by current and past IGCC facilities.
  • IGCC technology is superior to SCPC plants because an IGCC plant can use a wide variety of feedstocksincluding high-sulfur coals and petcoke that cannot be used in SCPC plants under current emission limits.
  • The superior efficiency of a combined cycle configuration allows an IGCC plant to produce equal amounts of electricity while consuming less fuel.

The following links provide valuable information and resources that expand on the benefits of IGCC technology.

Coal can do that?
Energy for the 21st Century

It's All In the Process
ConocoPhillips E-Gas technology

Gasification Technologies Council