USA: GE Analysis on CO2 Emissions from Coal and Gas Power Plant How to Cut CO2 Emissions by One Billion Tons

Editor: Alexander Stark

GE released an analysis of global power plants, which claims that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the world’s fleet of coal and gas plants can be reduced by 10 % — the equivalent of removing 95 % of cars off U.S. roads — if existing hardware and software solutions would be fully applied.

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(Source: General Electric)

Schenectady/USA — GE used a proprietary set of data for each coal and gas-fired plant in the world to uncover potential opportunities to improve plants’ heat rate and lower carbon emissions. The analysis comes as countries around the world are looking for climate saving solutions that will help them transition to a lower carbon energy future. “The technology to make coal and gas more efficient is available now – countries and companies alike should be taking advantage of this to lower their carbon output,” said Deb Frodl, global executive director, Ecomagination, GE. “These actions should be taken as a complement to continued investment in renewable energy sources as we all strive to find carbon reductions across the energy mix.”

Potential for Coal Plant Upgrades

Coal power plants could be made approximately 4 %more efficient with 2.5 % in efficiencies coming from turbine and boiler upgrades, and 1.5 % coming from software improvements. The analysis also found that applying all potential upgrades to coal power plants can remove 900 million metric tons of CO2 (11 % of total coal power emissions) — more than the annual CO2 output of the United Kingdom and France combined. China (296 MT) and India (143 MT) are two countries with big opportunities in the coal power sector.

Potential for Gas Power Plant Upgrades

Similarly, GE’s analysis estimates that gas-fired power plants could be made approximately 3.3 %more efficient with 1.8  coming from hardware upgrades and 1.5 % coming from software improvements. These savings could reduce global gas power emissions by 203 metric tons or 8.8 %t. Russia (45 MT) and the U.S. (34) are two countries with big opportunities in the gas power sector.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), approximately 41 % of global electricity generation comes from coal-fired power plants and 22 %comes from gas-fired power plants. The IEA estimates that both fuels will see increased use over the next decade. For markets with significant energy needs and coal reliance, like China and India, upgrades to power plants can help provide cleaner energy options and help countries make progress towards their climate goals. With natural gas playing an increasingly important role in many markets around the world, there is also great opportunity to ensure that it too is being utilized as efficiently as possible.

Additional Findings

Upgrades to the entire global coal fleet can save 494 million tons of fuel globally on an annual basis. In the European Union — where there is a goal to reduce emissions 40 % by 2030 – these solutions can help drive efficiencies from coal reliant countries like Poland where coal accounts for 80 % of electricity generation. In Africa, South Africa has the biggest opportunity for fuel and carbon savings (23 MT) coming upgrades in the coal power sector.