Flexible, responsive fossil-fired generation supports the growth of intermittent renewables. With more than 27 GW of installed capacity, EDF is a world leader in fossil-fired generation and constantly strives to reduce the environmental impact of the technology.
Fossil-fired generation remains the predominant technology worldwide. In 2035, it is expected to remain the main technology, albeit with a reduced share of the energy mix at some 55% of overall capacity, according to IEA estimates. Fossil-fired power plants (using coal, natural gas and even fuel oil) help constantly balance electricity generation and demand with record flexibility and responsiveness. The investment cost for a fossil-fired power plant is limited in comparison with other technologies and construction times are also shorter.
A well-balanced energy mix requires generation resources that can be started up and shut down very rapidly and that can vary power output very widely. Hydroelectric generation partly meets this requirement but the increasing connection of intermittent renewable energy sources to the grid has created a substantial need for greater flexibility and responsiveness that fossil-fired generation can meet. The more intermittent renewable energy connected to the grid, the greater the need for energy that can be delivered at a moment’s notice.
The start-up times of fossil-fired plants are short, particularly combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants. While a coal-fired plant takes eight hours to reach full capacity, a CCGT plant takes about one hour. The Bouchain CCGT plant, commissioned in the summer of 2016, takes less than 30 minutes.
In addition, the operating range (capacity) is very wide, so that “dips” in wind and sunlight, which reduce wind and solar generation, can be rapidly offset.
EDF, a world benchmark
With more than 27 GW of gross installed capacity worldwide (22% of the Group’s generation fleet), EDF is a world benchmark in fossil-fired generation. To differing degrees, all EDF’s major subsidiaries – in the UK (EDF Energy), Italy (Edison), Belgium (EDF Luminus) and Poland (EDF Polska) – are involved in it.
Fossil-fired generation accounts for 70% of the global energy mix
The Group offers widely respected expertise in the design and construction of fossil-fired plants as well as in the operation. It can build on its experience to deliver the right power plant model for each project and each country.
EDF is engaged in the effort to produce more competitive, more environmentally friendly energy. It works with leading manufacturers, such as Alstom, Siemens, GE and Datang, around the world to develop innovative technologies. Over the past 10 years, EDF Group has reduced its atmospheric emissions 94% by taking action in three areas. First, the Group has refurbished its fossil-fired generation fleet by closing down the oldest plants and building new capacity. Second, it uses better-quality fuels, such as coal with lower ash content and low-sulphur fuel oil. And third, it is equipping its fossil-fired plants with state-of-the-art scrubbers.
Fossil-fired generation now accounts for 70% of the energy mix worldwide and plays a central role in the Group’s fleet: 22% of EDF’s installed capacity is fossil-fired.
In France, the fossil-fired fleet (7% of installed capacity) has undergone a major upgrade programme since 2007. The oldest power plants were permanently shut down, the existing fleet refurbished and new capacity was built.