Feasibility study of electricity generation from discard coal

B. North, A. Engelbrecht, B. Oboirien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


There is large electricity generation potential in discard coal, both in stockpiles and current arisings. Power stations with a combined capacity of up to 18 GW electrical (GWe) could be fuelled by discard coal. Modern circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) boilers, with capital costs comparable to equivalent pulverized fuel (PF) boilers, are capable of utilizing discard coal at a high efficiency while reducing sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions though the use of limestone sorbent for 'in-situ' capture. A detailed economic assessment of the feasibility of electricity generation from discard coal, comprising material and energy balances and the construction of a discounted cash flow (DCF) table, shows that it is also potentially attractive from an economic perspective. A base case analysis shows positive net present values (NPVs) and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 21.4%. Sensitivity analyses on critical parameters show that the economic viability is heavily dependent on parameters such as coal cost and the value of electricity. The project becomes unattractive above a coal price of approximately R300 per ton and at an electricity value below approximately 59c per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Site- and project-specific information such as the delivered cost of coal, location and efficacy of sorbents, and effective value of the electricity produced can be used as input to the economic analysis to evaluate siting options and sorbent source options for such a power station.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-580
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Discard coal
  • Electricity generation
  • Fluidized bed
  • Sulphur capture
  • Techno-economics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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