Situated on Tampa Bay, Big Bend Power Station is located on Big Bend Road on nearly 1,500 acres in southeastern Hillsborough County, close to Apollo Beach.
Big Bend Power Station has four coal-fired units with a combined output of more than 1,700 megawatts. The first unit began service in 1970; the second and third generating units were added in 1973 and 1976, respectively; and Unit Four was added in 1985. A natural gas- and fuel oil-fired peaking unit was installed in 2009 to provide additional power during periods of peak demand.
Big Bend Power Station meets strict environmental regulations through the use of flue gas desulfurization systems or “scrubbers,” which remove sulfur dioxide produced when coal is burned.
The scrubber for Big Bend Unit Four began operation in 1984, and since 1995, has simultaneously scrubbed Unit Three as well. The scrubber for Big Bend Units One and Two began operation at the end of 1999. The scrubber system complies with standards set by the U.S. Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, and removes 95 percent of sulfur dioxide from all four units.
By using a variety of proven technologies, Tampa Electric has continued to significantly reduce nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide emissions from Big Bend Power Station:
- Combustion modifications to all four units accounts for lower nitrogen oxides emissions. Nitrogen oxides emissions from Big Bend Power Station have been reduced by approximately 91 percent from 1998 emission levels through the installation of a Selective Catalytic Reduction system on each unit.
- Optimizing electrostatic precipitators to minimize emissions of particulate matter from the stacks was completed in 2004, resulting in a reduction of approximately 87 percent when compared to 1998 levels.
- Further reduction of sulfur dioxide emissions came as a result of investing more than $23 million in scrubber upgrades, resulting in a reduction of over 94 percent from 1998 levels.
Enhanced power reliability
The installation in 2009 of a new 60-megawatt natural gas- and fuel oil-fired peaking unit at Big Bend supports Tampa Electric's commitment to reliable power for its customers. In addition to being able to provide power during periods of peak customer demand, the peaking unit also can play a vital role if catastrophic weather causes the electric grid to lose power. With "black start" capability, power from the peaking unit can start the Big Bend's larger generating units in a blackout when power from the grid is not available. The units' "quick start" capability enables the company to bring them from off-line to full load status in 10 minutes, which provides a more economical way for the company to maintain operating reserves required to respond to system disruptions. Read more about the new peaking unit, part of a project that includes four additional peaking units at H.L. Culbreath Bayside Power Station in Tampa, in this news release.
During the scrubbing process, coal combustion gases are sprayed with a mixture of water and limestone. Sulfur oxides react with the spray to form gypsum. Tampa Electric recycles virtually all of its gypsum.
Gypsum is used locally in wallboard (drywall) for construction, in cement and concrete for construction and in agriculture as a soil nutrient or fertilizer
Fly ash, a fine particulate material that results from the combustion of coal and is collected in the electrostatic precipitators in all four Big Bend Units, is used in the cement and concrete industries.
Slag, which is collected at the bottom of the furnace, is a hard, glass-like material with many reuses, including in cement. Its hard quality makes it valuable to use as a high-velocity blast material to clean ships, storage tanks and other large metal surfaces.