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American Electric's New Coal Plant Boasts Efficient Technologies

American Electric Power Co. has received approval to build a 600-megawatt coal power plant that the company says will utilize technologies used elsewhere in the world to burn coal more efficiently and with fewer emissions.

The John W. Turk Jr. plant, set to begin operations in 2012, will be an ultra-supercritical facility, which uses high temperatures and pressure to use less coal to make energy and produce less carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatt of energy produced. Such plants are in use in Europe and Asia.

The facility, to be operated by American Electric Power subsidiary Southwestern Electric Power Company, will also use low-sulfur coal and emissions control systems. The air permit recently issued for the plant sets limits on emissions of particulates, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury. However, it does not limit carbon dioxide emissions.

The site for the plant includes an area set aside for carbon capture equipment, in case regulations ever require companies to take up carbon capture and storage.

Ultra-supercritical plants are one form of so-called "clean" coal technologies, along with carbon capture and sequestration. President-elect Barack Obama's energy plan includes developing coal-fired plants with carbon capture and sequestration technology.

Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Energy abandoned a plan to build a coal power plant and carbon sequestration facility in Mattoon, Ill., saying the costs of the project had increased too much, and planned to look into carbon sequestration in other sites.

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