Coal, Economics, and the Environment: Tradeoffs in the Coal-Electric Cycle

Ferrell, G.C. (1978). Coal, Economics, and the Environment: Tradeoffs in the Coal-Electric Cycle. IIASA Professional Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: PP-78-002

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Generating electricity from coal while also meeting environmental emission standards is an important scientific and engineering problem that has economic and societal impacts. In this paper, the question of which coal-energy systems provide for the most economical production of electricity under alternative environmental regulations is addressed using an applied systems analytical approach. The entire system of coal-energy use from the mine to the bus-bar is analyzed, and thus tradeoffs not necessarily realized by conventional industrial practices are studied. The methodology or the process of analysis, as distinct from the method or the analytic procedures, is discussed and outlined, and an approach for applied systems analysis is summarized.

The problem context for coal use in the United States and the potential environmental impacts is developed in some detail. A simple economic context is then described indicating how the cost of the coal-electric fuel cycle may be minimized and understood in economic terms. Cost and operating performance data are reviewed for the technologies involved, and a mathematical programming model is formulated that represents the entire coal-energy system.

Two case studies are then described. The first is somewhat preliminary but detailed, which allows the reader to relate the simple economic context to the first optimal solution of the mathematical programming model, and then easily follow several sensitivity analyses. The other case study builds on these initial results by adding degrees of complexity so that more realistic applications are approached. State-of-the-art data are used in the case studies, and short descriptions of the technologies in each case study are included.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Professional Paper)
Research Programs: Energy Program (ENP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:45
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:08

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