Highly flexible and efficient fossil fuel power plants
The share of energy produced from renewable resources is growing rapidly. The output of wind and solar power is highly variable, and depends of factors such as weather conditions and time of day. With this growing share of renewable power, in particular when having priority access to the grid, fossil fuel power plants will have to increasingly shift their role from providing base-load power to providing fluctuating back-up power to meet unpredictable and short-noticed demand peaks, in order to control and stabilise the grid. Plants should be able to run both at the lowest part load possible at the highest possible efficiency. Moreover, plants will be required to operate across the entire load range with high load-change velocities, and even operate in start/stop mode with full turndown and very fast re-start, all at minimal (lifetime) fuel consumption. This forces base-load plants to operate through significantly more thermal cycles, leading to increased rate of wear on plant components. Operational flexibility therefore presents a significant challenge for fossil fuel power (and CHP) plants.
Focus on progressing solutions that already reached TRL 3 to TRL 4-6 (please see part G of the General Annexes) and offer the highest potential for a deeper integration into an advanced energy system with ever higher shares of renewable energies, for both existing (retrofitting) and new thermal power plants. Solutions with lowest greenhouse gas emissions, residue disposal and water need per energy unit are preferred. Collaboration with power plant operators is strongly encouraged. Support will not be given to projects that provide performance improvements that are not related to load fluctuations.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 3 to 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Projects should lead to innovative and cost-effective solutions to improve the ability of new and/or existing dispatchable thermal power plants to meet fast load changes, in order to better support the grid due to fluctuations in energy peak demand and power output from renewable sources, at minimal fuel consumption and emissions, while mitigating the effects of cycling operation to avoid excessive wear and service life expenditure, and not impeding the potential CO2 capture readiness of the power plants.