Stanwell Power Station, 22 km west of Rockhampton, is using real-time data to more accurately monitor and report its emissions and optimise its operations.
While the majority of generators in Australia use generic emissions factors to report their emissions to the National Pollutant Inventory (NPI), Stanwell has made the decision to use real-time data (known as continuous emissions monitoring system or CEMS data) where this is available. This is considered a more transparent and robust method of reporting.
Previously, Stanwell had used generic emissions factors to report its emissions, as permitted under the NPI guidelines.
Acting Stanwell Power Station Site Manager Angie Zahra said the power station had used real-time data to report particulate matter emissions for the 2016/17 NPI report. In 2017/18, after extensive testing and validation of the data, Stanwell decided to further extend this approach to report Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and Oxides of Sulphur (SOx).
“Year on year, Stanwell Power Station’s actual emissions have remained relatively unchanged, in line with the amount of electricity our power station has generated. What has changed is the methodology we use to report the emissions,” Ms Zahra said.
“We have made the voluntary move to using a world-class continuous emissions monitoring system which allows us to measure emissions from the power station’s stack using real-time data.
“This was a significant investment and through this data we are able to more accurately understand our emissions data, and adjust and optimise our operations.”
“In the case of NOx, there is a noticeable difference between the use of the previously used generic emissions factor and the real-time measured data. This highlights to us that we have made the right decision in adopting the use of real-time data, as it provides a reliable measure of our emissions, rather than having to rely on a calculation based on the generic emissions factor.
“NOx emissions at Stanwell Power Station can be attributed to the make-up of the coal used at the power station to generate electricity.
“The coal, which is sourced from the Bowen Basin, has low volatiles, meaning it takes longer to combust and is more difficult to burn. This means a hotter flame is required to burn the coal and, as a result, NOx emissions are higher,” Ms Zahra said.
Stanwell has undertaken extensive work on optimising combustion on the boilers to control emissions. Low NOx burners have been installed on all four of the generating units at Stanwell Power Station, reducing the formation of NOx during the coal combustion process.
Stanwell Power Station operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet Queensland’s energy demand.
The power station has recorded comparatively high levels of emissions because it is one of Australia’s largest coal-fired power stations. In 2017/18, Stanwell Power Station generated more than 8,100 GWh of electricity, which represents more than 14 per cent of Queensland’s total electricity supply for the year.
During the same year, Stanwell also invested more than $55.1 million in the power station to ensure it operates as efficiently as possible and that it meets its environmental compliance requirements.
With emissions from the electricity generation sector comprising approximately one-third of Australia’s total emissions, Stanwell recognises that it has a key role to play in managing and monitoring emissions, while providing secure and affordable energy for Queensland households and businesses.
“Our goal is to safeguard the wellbeing of the environment and neighbouring communities. We use electrostatic precipitators to capture particulates and conduct comprehensive air quality, surface water and groundwater monitoring to ensure our operations are not negatively impacting the surrounding environment and community,” Ms Zahra said.
Stanwell Power Station is one of the most efficient subcritical coal-fired power stations operating in Australia.
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