Thermodynamic optimization of power plants based on supercritical (SupC) and ultrasupercritical (USC) steam parameters is reported in this article. The objective is to compute the maximum attainable power plant efficiency in Indian climatic conditions using high ash (HA) indigenous coal. A unit size of 800 MWe presently under development in India is considered for energy and exergy analysis of power plants. Commercially established steam turbine parameters are used for the optimization of SupC power plant, whereas advanced steam turbine parameters currently under research and development are used for the optimization of USC power plant. The plant energy efficiency of the optimized SupC and USC power plant based on air-coal combustion (ACC) show considerable increases of 2.8 and 5.2% points, respectively compared with the current SupC ACC power plant (reference plant) being commissioned in India. The increases in plant exergy efficiency for the same power plants are 2.6 and 4.8% points and the corresponding CO2 reductions are about 6 and 11%, respectively. The maximum possible plant energy efficiency in Indian climatic conditions using HA Indian coal is about 42.7% (USC power plant). The effect of low ash coal on plant energy and exergy efficiencies compared with HA coal is also presented. Further, the effect of oxy-coal combustion (OCC) on the plant energy and exergy efficiencies compared with the ACC is studied for the double reheat SupC and USC power plants to account for the impact of CO2 capture. A significant reduction of 8.8 and 6.6% points in plant energy efficiency is observed for SupC and USC OCC power plants, respectively compared with the reference SupC ACC power plant.

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