October 28, 2010
The Majuba UCG project, developed and owned by South African power utility, Eskom, reached another modern world first today. Eskom's UCG demonstration plant commenced delivery of syngas to Majuba Power Station. This is a historic occasion, as it marks the first production of commercial electricity from UCG syngas outside of the former Soviet Union.
The Majuba UCG operation has been successfully producing Syngas since 20 January 2007. The project now surpasses the Australian Chinchilla trial in terms of both duration and coal extraction, making it the longest and largest UCG operation ever conducted in the western world. With syngas production expanded to 15,000 Nm3/hr, the Majuba Project is unprecedented in its scale, geological complexity, and pioneering nature.
With the pipeline and commercial gas clean-up facility recently commissioned and necessary modifications made to the power station, first gas was delivered at 13:22 (SAST) on 28 October 2010. The gas is being co-fired with coal and contributes 3MW to the unit's current electricity production of approximately 650MW.
Planned expansion of the gas production facility will ultimately see all six boilers firing on a mixture of coal and εUCG™ syngas. It is anticipated that approximately 30% of the plants fuel will be eventually provided by εUCG™ Syngas, producing approximately 1,200Mwe of electricity.
The power station was originally supplied by an adjacent underground coal mine with a design capacity of 15 million t/a. The mine, which was targeting a 3.5 meter-thick coal seam at a depth of approximately 300m, was closed and abandoned due to difficult mining conditions.
The εUCG™ facility extracts coal from the un-minable coal deposit by converting it into gas, without experiencing the problems that caused closure of the conventional mine. Ergo Exergy's εUCG™ technology has provided an efficient, cost effective and environmentally friendly way to extract the coal resource and provide it as fuel for the power station.
Although this achievement cannot be considered anything less than remarkable for the two companies, the true benefits of εUCG™ technology really come to light when combined with modern gas turbine electricity generation. Accordingly, development plans have already been initiated by Eskom for a 100 to 140MWe open cycle gas turbine (OCGT) demonstration plant. When combined with Ergo Exergy's εUCG™ process, such gas turbines can reach efficiencies of up to 40%, providing for a significantly reduced carbon footprint.