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Tech Expert: Kingston Plant Replacement Should Be Cleaner

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Tech Expert: Kingston Plant Replacement Should Be Cleaner

TVA will replace its Kingston Fossil Plant by 2027 with a cleaner, more reliable natural gas facility, something a Tennessee Tech Engineer said will be kinder to the environment.

Tech Center for Energy Systems Research Engineer Robert Craven wrote the efficiency software for the current Kingston facility. Craven said nuclear and coal energy systems make up the country’s baseline power grid. He said society has trended toward renewable energy from solar panels and wind turbines, and cleaner sources like natural gas.

“Even if you switch to a lot of wind and solar, you need some spinning reserve for when the sun quits shining and the wind quits blowing, so natural gas is a superb way,” Craven said. “And if they’re using it for cogeneration, i.e. heating something as well, then it becomes very efficient.”

The nine coal-fired units at Kingston will be replaced by a complex with some 1,500 megawatts of combined cycle and dual-fuel natural gas combustion turbines. Craven said natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide, making it less environmentally harmful.

“There’s the thought that excess CO2 is causing global warming,” Craven said. “And so, natural gas produces less CO2 per kilowatt than coal, so therefore, it is a better target there.”

He said a natural gas facility might be easier to maintain as well. He said pulverized coal produces a large fireball that wears on the boiler walls that surround it. Craven said workers have to close down the facility and build scaffolding to climb up alongside the large boiler and weld in new sections of piping.

“Now with wind and solar, when panels get damaged, you have to have expertise to go out and fix it,” Craven said. “When the wind turbines get broken, you have to have experts go 400 feet in the air.”

The decision to make the shift follows a public process under the National Environmental Policy Act that ensures public input is considered when reviewing the energy possibilities of the future. The new facility will be up and running prior to the fossil plant’s retirement to prevent disruptions for energy customers.


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