Yeongdong biomass conversion in Korea to be complete in 2017

By Erin Voegele | October 18, 2016

In November 2015, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction announced it had secured a contract from Korea South-East Power to convert the Yeongdong Thermal Power Plant Unit 1 to biomass. That conversion project is currently under way, with completion expected early next year. The original 125 MW generation capacity of the unit has been maintained.

 The Yeongdong plant was originally completed in 1973. Rather than cofiring biomass, the unit will be transformed by Doosan to a power station fueled entirely by biomass. The company said the conversion is the first complete coal-to-biomass conversion project in Korea.

Graham Welford, sales director at Doosan Babcock, said the conversion project is now well underway, with deliveries to site already being made and construction in an advanced state. The project is currently scheduled to be complete in the spring of 2017, with first fire just after the new year, he added.

Once the conversion is complete, the unit will be able to burn up to 100 percent coal or a 100 percent biomass, which 95 percent of that being wood pellets and the remaining 5 percent being wood chips or palm kernel shells (PKS), Welford said.

According to Welford, upgrades being made to the unit include fuel handling changes that are required to handle biomass, along with a step change in safety equipment compared to coal. “In the boiler house, we have replaced the coal mills, added new burners, PF piping and combustion systems because the old anthracite firing system based on tube ball mills was inappropriate for biomass,” he added.

Regarding the decision to convert the unit to 100 percent biomass rather than enabling it to cofire biomass, Welford explained Korea has a directive for each utility to have 10 percent renewable energy supply. Large new coal units entering into service, he said, needed to be balanced with this smaller renewable generation. He also said there is large potential for other similar projects in Korea and other countries.

Welford noted Doosan Babcock has been doing biomass cofiring and conversions of old coal-fired boilers for 20 years. In addition to the Yeongdong project, the company is also contracted to for the Lynemouth conversion in the U.K., and is working with other customers in Asia, North America and Europe.