This study evaluates the load modulation capabilities of small and medium size CHP systems based on integrated coal gasification and syngas storage (ICGSS) power plants. ICGSS systems can perform a load-following service since a portion of the produced syngas is stored during periods of low energy demand and used to increase power output during periods of peaking demand. In particular, the main energy and economic performance of ICGSS power generation plants were evaluated with reference to three different prime movers (gas turbines, internal combustion engines and hybrid fuel cell systems) and as a function of the required electrical load curve. Moreover, a preliminary economic analysis was also carried out to evaluate the energy production cost in comparison with base-load energy production cost.
The results of the study show that ICGSS power plants offer considerable scope for enhancing operating flexibility and load modulation capabilities of CHP systems based on coal gasification. In comparison to coal gasification power plants designed to produce only base-load energy, ICGSS systems require a more powerful prime mover and a larger coal gasification section. In the field of duty-cycles of more likely interest, the coal gasification section needs to be enlarged by 5–50% and a fraction from 2% to 16% of the produced syngas needs to be stored. ICGSS plants based on hybrid fuel cells performed better in terms of electrical efficiency. Moreover, with respect to the corresponding base-load systems, electrical efficiency decreases by about 2–3 percentage points for ICGSS-GT and ICGSS-ICE, while it increases by about 1–2 percentage points for ICGSS-HFC. Finally, syngas storage can reduce energy costs in CHP systems, especially in the case high peaking electricity requirements, large useful heat productions and by using ICGSS based on ICE as prime movers.