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A centurial history of technological change and learning curves or pulverized coal-fired utility boilers


  • Yeh, Sonia
  • Rubin, Edward


Recent study of the history of technological change has provided better understanding of the driving forces for technological innovation, as well as quantitative estimates of historical rates of technical change. Although such results are widely used in long-term energy models to estimate future costs over time periods of up to a century, most studies of technological learning for major energy technologies are based on historical trends over time periods not longer than 20–30 years (often because of data limitations). Relatively few studies quantify longer-term (century-scale) trends. This study helps fill that gap by reviewing the history of pulverized-coal (PC) power plants, with a specific focus on the technological progress of PC boiler technology over the last century. Historical data for U.S. plants are used to develop long-term experience curves for the overall thermal efficiency of PC power plants, as well as the capital cost of PC boilers and non-fuel operating and maintenance (O&M) costs of PC plants. Despite a technology plateau experienced by PC power plants two decades ago, recent developments indicate that such plants will continue to improve and remain a competitive and important part of power generation technology portfolios.

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  • Yeh, Sonia & Rubin, Edward, 2007. "A centurial history of technological change and learning curves or pulverized coal-fired utility boilers," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt4xn4w7rn, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:itsdav:qt4xn4w7rn

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastián, F. & Royo, J. & Gómez, M., 2011. "Cofiring versus biomass-fired power plants: GHG (Greenhouse Gases) emissions savings comparison by means of LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) methodology," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 2029-2037.
    2. repec:eee:rensus:v:77:y:2017:i:c:p:861-874 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Neij, Lena, 2008. "Cost development of future technologies for power generation--A study based on experience curves and complementary bottom-up assessments," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 2200-2211, June.
    4. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:5:p:861-:d:99167 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Evgeny Lisin & Andrey Rogalev & Wadim Strielkowski & Ivan Komarov, 2015. "Sustainable Modernization of the Russian Power Utilities Industry," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(9), pages 1-23, August.
    6. Kim, Seunghyok & Koo, Jamin & Lee, Chang Jun & Yoon, En Sup, 2012. "Optimization of Korean energy planning for sustainability considering uncertainties in learning rates and external factors," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 126-134.
    7. Badur, Janusz & Ziółkowski, Paweł & Sławiński, Daniel & Kornet, Sebastian, 2015. "An approach for estimation of water wall degradation within pulverized-coal boilers," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 92(P1), pages 142-152.
    8. Chen, Qixin & Kang, Chongqing & Xia, Qing & Guan, Dabo, 2011. "Preliminary exploration on low-carbon technology roadmap of China’s power sector," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 1500-1512.
    9. Kemp, Alexander G. & Sola Kasim, A., 2010. "A futuristic least-cost optimisation model of CO2 transportation and storage in the UK/UK Continental Shelf," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3652-3667, July.
    10. repec:eee:rensus:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:970-983 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Kaminski, Jacek & KudeLko, Mariusz, 2010. "The prospects for hard coal as a fuel for the Polish power sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(12), pages 7939-7950, December.
    12. Saidur, R. & Ahamed, J.U. & Masjuki, H.H., 2010. "Energy, exergy and economic analysis of industrial boilers," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 2188-2197, May.
    13. Rubin, Edward S. & Azevedo, Inês M.L. & Jaramillo, Paulina & Yeh, Sonia, 2015. "A review of learning rates for electricity supply technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 198-218.
    14. Matteson, Schuyler & Williams, Eric, 2015. "Residual learning rates in lead-acid batteries: Effects on emerging technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 71-79.
    15. McNerney, James & Doyne Farmer, J. & Trancik, Jessika E., 2011. "Historical costs of coal-fired electricity and implications for the future," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 3042-3054, June.
    16. Sascha Samadi, 2016. "A Review of Factors Influencing the Cost Development of Electricity Generation Technologies," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(11), pages 1-25, November.
    17. repec:eee:rensus:v:82:y:2018:i:p3:p:2346-2364 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Liu, Qiang & Shi, Minjun & Jiang, Kejun, 2009. "New power generation technology options under the greenhouse gases mitigation scenario in China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2440-2449, June.
    19. Bazmi, Aqeel Ahmed & Zahedi, Gholamreza, 2011. "Sustainable energy systems: Role of optimization modeling techniques in power generation and supply—A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(8), pages 3480-3500.
    20. Li, Sheng & Gao, Lin & Zhang, Xiaosong & Lin, Hu & Jin, Hongguang, 2012. "Evaluation of cost reduction potential for a coal based polygeneration system with CO2 capture," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 101-106.
    21. Yeh, Sonia & Rubin, Edward S., 2012. "A review of uncertainties in technology experience curves," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 762-771.
    22. Hong, Sungjun & Chung, Yanghon & Woo, Chungwon, 2015. "Scenario analysis for estimating the learning rate of photovoltaic power generation based on learning curve theory in South Korea," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 80-89.
    23. Braimakis, Konstantinos & Atsonios, Konstantinos & Panopoulos, Kyriakos D. & Karellas, Sotirios & Kakaras, Emmanuel, 2014. "Economic evaluation of decentralized pyrolysis for the production of bio-oil as an energy carrier for improved logistics towards a large centralized gasification plant," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 57-72.

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