Oil Shale Industry - Power Generation

Power Generation

Oil shale can be used as a fuel in thermal power plants, wherein oil shale is burnt like coal to drive the steam turbines. As of 2012, there are oil shale-fired power plants in Estonia with a generating capacity of 2,967 megawatts (MW), China, and Germany. Also Israel, Romania and Russia have run oil shale-fired power plants, but have shut them down or switched to other fuels like natural gas. Jordan and Egypt have announced their plans to construct oil shale-fired power plants, while Canada and Turkey plan to burn oil shale at the power plants along with coal.

Thermal power plants which use oil shale as a fuel mostly employ two types of combustion methods. The traditional method is Pulverized combustion (PC) which is used in the older units of oil shale-fired power plants in Estonia, while the more advanced method is Fluidized bed combustion (FBC), which is used in the Holcim cement factory in Dotternhausen, Germany, and was used in the Mishor Rotem power plant in Israel. The main FBC technologies are Bubbling fluidized bed combustion (BFBC) and Circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC).

There are more than 60 power plants around the world, which are using CFBC technology for combustion of coal and lignite, but only two new units at Narva Power Plants in Estonia, and one at Huadian Power Plant in China use CFBC technology for combustion of oil shale. The most advanced and efficient oil shale combustion technology is Pressurized fluidized-bed combustion (PFBC). However, this technology is still premature and is in its nascent stage.

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