474898 Research & Development Needed to Enable Continued Use of Coal in a Carbon-Constrained Future

Tuesday, November 15, 2016: 1:05 PM
Van Ness (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Jeffrey N Phillips, Electric Power Research Institute, Charlotte, NC

Earlier this year more than 100 nations signed the COP-21 agreement which calls for CO2 levels in the atmosphere to be limited to no greater than what would lead to a 2°C increase in the global average temperatures when compared to the pre-industrial era. This would require a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. A reduction which many researchers have said will eventually require the use of CO2 capture and storage (CCS) or utilization on almost all fossil fuel power plants. However, today’s CCS technology is expensive and is unlikely to be applied unless the price for emitting CO2 exceeds $60 to $100/ton. Moreover, in many locations neither geologic storage nor enhanced oil recovery via CO2 injection is available, and the applicability of utilization is also limited.

Nevertheless, there are options for decreasing emissions from coal power plants which do not involve using CCS. These options are aimed at increasing the thermal efficiency of coal power technology, so that less coal is used to generate a given amount of power.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has conducted an analysis which shows that some advanced coal-based technologies could achieve a CO2 emissions standard of 500 to 636 kg/MWh. Several of these technologies could be applicable for retrofitting to today’s fleet of coal power plants. This keynote will highlight some of the technologies which could decrease CO2 emissions from coal power plants. It will also identify the most important research and development (R&D) which must be undertaken to bring those technologies to commercial reality, and will argue that R&D on CCS must continue as CCS is the only technology which provides the level of CO2 reductions required to meet the COP-21 target.

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