NEWS RELEASE                                   JANUARY 2012

China to Spend $100 Billion Per Year on New Coal-fired Power Plants for the Next Decade

China is planning to expand its coal-fired capacity from 646,000 MW in 2010 to 1,030,000,000 in 2020 according to the latest five year plan.  This will result in annual capital investment of $100 billion. It will include $10 billion per year for air pollution control equipment.  Coal-fired generation investment will exceed that of gas, nuclear, solar or wind according to the latest forecasts in the McIlvaine continually updated Fossil & Nuclear Power Generation: World Analysis & Forecast.

India and a number of other Asian countries will be investing far more in coal-fired power generation than in alternatives. Carbon sequestration is not planned for the vast majority of the planned power plants.  However, there will be many ways that coal-fired power plants will become green.

  • Use the low pressure steam for co-located industries rather than waste it in a cooling tower cycle,
  • Make byproducts such as hydrochloric acid, sulfur, ammonium sulfate and gypsum,
  • Replace old inefficient coal-fired power plants with 30 percent efficiency with 45 percent efficient ultrasupercritical power plants,
  • Co-locate desalination and municipal wastewater treatment plants with coal generators.

The Spiritwood Plant of Great Rivers Energy is an example of how green coal can become.  The coal-fired power plant will use municipal wastewater for cooling; the low pressure steam will be used for grain drying and for the production of cellulosic ethanol. The residue from the cellulosic process can then be used to replace some of the coal in the steam generation.

One of the problems in maximizing co-location of ethanol and municipal wastewater treatment plants is the need to change the design to take advantage of low pressure steam.  In the case of cellulosic ethanol, the use of steam at lower temperatures than are optimum will require larger process equipment. In the case of municipal wastewater treatment plants, there needs to be a re-design to take advantage of plentiful low cost heat to accelerate the biological processes and dry the sewage sludge.

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