Plans to build a coal-burning plant that would generate both heat and electricity at the National Institutes of Health have been scrapped since a feasibility study has found that energy savings would be minimal, according to spokesman for the project.

"The energy conservation would not be nearly as much as was first thought," said Robert Blake, NIH's deputy director for engineering management. "What we need to do now is use the data that developed from the study to determine what our needs will be over many years in the future."

The Department of Health and Human Services ordered the $294,000 study of ways to replace NIH's aging boilers after former president Carter ordered all federal agencies to reduce fuel use by 1985.

The engineering firm of Black & Veech looked into the idea of building a large, coal-fired plant to would produce electricity and heat for both NIH and the National Naval Medical Center across the street.

The Naval center withdrew from the project on grounds that the required initial investment was too large. The Department of Health and Human Services is preparing is preparing a summary document what will project the long-range heating needs of NIH.

"We have not ruled out the possibility of a smaller cogeneration plant if that should prove to be feasible," said Blake. "We must determine, from changes in administraton policy, whether we should concentrate on coal or switch to natural gas. We'll consider both conventional and cogeneration plants."