NEWS RELEASE MAY 2015
$1.6 Trillion Investment in New Coal-fired Power Plants over the Next Decade
Asian countries will rely on coal for new electricity generation over the next decade. Total investment in new coal–fired power plants will be $1.6 trillion dollars. More than 800,000 MW of new facilities will be placed into operation. By contrast, the U.S. will reduce its capacity from 280,000 MW to 230,000 MW. These are the latest forecasts in N043 Fossil and Nuclear Power Generation: World Analysis and Forecastpublished by The McIlvaine Company.
The rationale used for the Asian coal-fired power plant construction is that there are greater health as well as economic benefits for this investment. Large new power plants emit only a fraction of the pollutants which an equivalent number of crude wood or coal burning stoves would emit. Electrification and health are linked in many ways. Renewables may be the optimum choice in the future but coal is the one source which is available and affordable.
The retirement of coal-fired power plants in the U.S. and Europe will be considerably less than the new power plant construction elsewhere. However, the total world air emissions from coal-fired power plants are likely to be reduced. Modern air pollution control equipment can reduce pollutants by 99 percent. Asian countries are retrofitting this technology on existing power plants as well as utilizing it on all new power plants.
China is leading the way. It has very stringent regulations for particulate, NOx, SOx and has even now regulated mercury emissions. China is also leading the research to extract rare earths from coal flyash. If flyash becomes the main source of rare earths, there will be very substantial reductions in energy costs associated with rare earth production.
There are many new routes for efficiency improvement at existing coal-fired power plants. Plants which most efficiently utilize waste steam for co-generation are twice as efficient as plants which do not co-generate. Great Rivers Energy has set the example in the U.S. Waste steam supplies the Blue Flint ethanol plant with all its energy needs.
Coal-fired power plants can be designed to be cleaner than wind or solar. A coal-fired power plant which cogenerates and uses oxy combustion and CO2 sequestration would actually reduce greenhouse gases. Since all the flue gas is stored underground, there are no air emissions. The steam used for cogeneration eliminates the CO2 which would have otherwise been created at the ethanol or other receiving facility. So there are no pollutants being discharged and there is a net greenhouse gas reduction.
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