News item | 2012-01-31 | 15:40 PM

Trials to begin for renewable energy stability

Vattenfall is to launch trials to improve flexibility in its lignite operations. The trials will take place within the company’s Flexgen project, and could result in a renewable energy infrastructure with fewer fluctuations.

Developing the company’s lignite technology is important for increasing the flexible generation to meet the growing market for biomass and wind, for minimizing the technology load on power plants, and for reducing CO2 emissions.

Safe and cost-efficient

Reducing the technical minimum load means lessening the pressure on all components in a power plant. Currently, if the target capacity of a power plant falls below the mark, the boiler has to be supported by fuel oil in order to supply the grid with power, or be turned off.

“Fuel oil is expensive and tough on the environment,” says Dr. Thomas Porsche at Vattenfall R&D. “And turning off a power plant takes time and money. The aim is to increase the use of renewable energy everywhere and to reduce the costs of power plants.”

Trials go live

Several technologies will now be examined and economically evaluated in order for Vattenfall to gain enough flexibility in its lignite generation and to achieve the best possible power plant safety. One option could be dry lignite. Today, Vattenfall has a coal-drying pilot plant in operation in Schwarze Pumpe, Germany, where most of the trials with new technologies will be conducted.

These trials will include additional steam feeding on hydrogen basis, or hot water storage in low-pressure pre-heaters. Flexgen is a collaboration of Vattenfall’s Business Unit Lignite Mining and Generation in Cottbus and Business Unit R&D.