Gasification combined cycle has the potential to provide a clean, high efficiency, low environmental impact power generation system. A prime fuel for such systems is coal but there is scope in part to utilise renewable energy sources including biomass and waste materials such as sewage sludge or even oil residues. There is considerable scope to improve the performance of the first generation systems of gasification combined cycle plant, both through design changes and through the continued development towards second generation plant. Such improvements offer the prospect of even better efficiency, coal/biomass/waste utilisation flexibility, lower emissions especially of CO2, and lower economic cost of power generation. There have been several major R&D initiatives, supported in part by the European Commission, which have been designed to meet these aims. The approach adopted has been to form multi-partner project teams comprising industry, industrial research organisations and selected universities. The main technical issues that have been considered include co-gasification, e.g. co-feeding, fuel conversion, gas quality, contaminants, component developments, and the integration of hot fuel gas cleaning systems for removal of solid particles, control of sulphur emissions, control of fuel bound nitrogenous species, removal of halides and control of alkali species. The technical R&D activities have been underpinned by several major techno-economic assessment studies. This paper provides an overview of these various activities which either form part of the European Commission JOULE Coal R&D Programme or were supported under an APAS special initiative.

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