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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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Paper provided by Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis in its series Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series with number qt4xn4w7rn.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:itsdav:qt4xn4w7rn
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  1. Ad Seebregts & Tom Kram & Gerrit Jan Schaeffer & Alexandra Bos, 2000. "Endogenous learning and technology clustering: analysis with MARKAL model of the Western European energy system," International Journal of Global Energy Issues, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 14(1/2/3/4), pages 289-319.
  2. Rubin, Edward S. & Yeh, Sonia & Antes, Matt & Berkenpas, Michael & Davison, John, 2007. "Use of experience curves to estimate the future cost of power plants with CO2 capture," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt46x6h0n0, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
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  10. McCabe, Mark J, 1996. "Principals, Agents, and the Learning Curve: The Case of Steam-Electric Power Plant Design and Construction," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(4), pages 357-75, December.
  11. Riahi, Keywan & Rubin, Edward S. & Schrattenholzer, Leo, 2004. "Prospects for carbon capture and sequestration technologies assuming their technological learning," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 29(9), pages 1309-1318.
  12. Paul Joskow & Nancy L. Rose, 1985. "The Effects of Technological Change, Experience, and Environmental Regulation on the Construction Cost of Coal-Burning Generating Units," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 1-17, Spring.
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  15. Socrates Kypreos & Leonardo Barreto & Pantelis Capros & Sabine Messner, 2000. "ERIS: A model prototype with endogenous technological change," International Journal of Global Energy Issues, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 14(1/2/3/4), pages 347-397.
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