CCS standardem dla nowych amerykańskich elektrowni węglowych

New EPA Standards Could Help Promote Carbon Capture Technology

With the availability of cheap natural gas and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent update to  emissions standards, coal as an energy source appears to be on the decline in the U.S.  Opponents of the new standards are calling them an attack on coal and in some cases even a war on energy [1].   The response has commonly been that coal plants can meet the emissions standards by implementing carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology.  The main argument against CCS technology is that it is currently too expensive to be economically viable.  However, some companies appear prepared to take on these costs.  The Environmental Protection Agency has named 15 plants close enough to construction to be exempted from the new regulations.  Of the 15 plants, 6 incorporate CCS technology [2].  This shows that even prior to the new EPA regulations there were companies willing to take on the expense of CCS.

The push for plants with CCS has been improved in North America with government help.  Some plants are incentivized, such as plants in Alberta, Canada where both the provincial and Canadian governments have put up large amounts of money spread among several projects and in Kemper County, Mississippi where the U.S. federal government is lending financial support [3].

In Australia, CCS technology has been excluded from federal clean-energy funding.  Testing has continued despite a lack of financial help from the government.  Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO, encourages continued testing arguing that, “The cost of installing and operating a post-combustion carbon dioxide capture system would fall substantially once the technology was established [4].”

China, a leading nation in carbon emissions, is also working diligently to perfect CCS technology.  Their technology has been shown to remove carbon from coal plant exhaust for roughly a third of what it costs in the U.S.  Duke Corp. has signed a research agreement with the Chinese group responsible for this technology [5].  In addition to studying the Chinese technology Duke Corp. plans to investigate how much of the savings comes from the technology and how much comes from the lower labor and capital costs.  If the technology is a significant source of savings, it could speed the implementation of CCS technology worldwide.

This shows that instead of being the war on coal that some claim it to be, the new EPA standards may instead encourage the development of CCS technology that could help revolutionize the coal industry.





EPA Banks on CCS Technologies, Sets Carbon Standards for New Coal Units

No “Notable Costs”

According to the EPA, the new carbon standard for power plants is “in line” with sector investment patterns, which is why the proposed standard is not expected to have “notable costs” or impact reliability. "EPA, [the Energy Information Administration], and industry projections indicate that, due to the economics of coal and natural gas among other factors, new power plants that are built in the near future will already meet these proposed standards," Milbourn told POWERnews. "Therefore, EPA estimates that there are no additional costs or benefits associated with this proposed rule."
Milbourn pointed to the EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis, which says that "even in a baseline scenario without the proposed rule, the only capacity additions subject to this rule projected during the analysis period (through 2020) are compliant with the requirements of this rule (e.g., combined cycle natural gas and small amounts of coal with CCS supported by DOE funding)."
The analysis also says, however, that research into cost and efficiency of varying levels of capture relative to building other energy technologies indicates that lower levels of carbon capture at new coal facilities could be cost competitive, and the costs of meeting the proposed emission rate immediately could be achievable.
"For example, The Clean Air Task Force has compiled data that indicates the levelized cost of electricity for a new supercritical pulverized coal unit with 50 percent CCS (or 1,080 lb/MWh CO2, which is just above the proposed standard) could be $116/MWh compared to $147/MWh for 90 percent removal," it says. "However, investment decisions will be made on a case by case basis dependent upon a number of factors, all of which are difficult to estimate in advance."

An Achievable Rule?

Industry experts generally agree that the rule is unachievable by any coal-fired power plant, absent application of currently unavailable carbon sequestration technology. As Adam Kushner, partner in law firm Hogan Lovells’ Environmental practice and former director of the Office of Civil Enforcement at the EPA,told POWERnews, “EPA’s preamble effectively acknowledges that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is generally not available today. It is for that reason EPA established an emission limit based on a 30-year compliance averaging period. That is, EPA will give new coal plants 30 years to demonstrate they can meet the proposed standard, since the proposed numeric emission limitation for coal-fired power plants is based on a standard currently only achievable by combined cycle natural gas plants,” he said.
“In the preamble to the rule, EPA specifically states that it anticipates that the only way new coal-fired power plants can meet the standard is by carbon capture and storage (CCS) of approximately 50% of the CO2 in the plant’s exhaust gas during start-up or through more effective CCS as it is developed down the road.”
Perhaps the foremost implication of the rule is that it will “effectively halt the construction of new coal-fired power plants. Moreover, the effect of the rule, given the historic low price for natural gas, will be to provide further incentive for coal-fired power owners and operators to continue the trend of converting coal plants to natural gas,” Kushner added.
But the proposed rule won’t be finalized without hiccups, he noted. “EPA will face significant legal challenges to the rule.”
As required by the Clean Air Act for new source performance standards (NSPS) rules, the EPA will need to establish that the emission limit in the rule is “achievable through the application of the best system of emission reduction which . . . has been adequately demonstrated.” For that reason, the “EPA may be hard pressed to show that CCS is adequately demonstrated given its unavailability to many coal-fired power plants. In the face of that specific challenge, EPA will need to justify its reliance on a 30-year compliance standard, which suggests in and of itself that such technology is generally not available today. EPA is also likely to face challenges for predicating the proposed emission standard for coal-fired units on an emission standard EPA acknowledges can only currently be achievable by combined cycle natural gas units.”
Kushner said that several cases related to the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases were already being legally challenged. Among these are cases recently argued and fully submitted to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which challenge, among other things, the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations, and the EPA’s “Tailoring” rule, which applies the Clean Air Act’s prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) program to greenhouse gas emissions emitted from both new and existing coal-fired power plants.
“The challenges that are ensuing in the D.C. Circuit will not necessarily impact the proposed NSPS for new plants. However, should the D.C. Circuit reject challenges to the EPA tailoring rule (which is currently in effect), and should EPA’s proposed NSPS be adopted as a final rule, then any PSD permits issued for new plants will have to include an emission limit that is not less stringent than the emission limit in the proposed NSPS for new coal-fired power plants,” Kushner said.
The EPA will accept comment on this proposed rule for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.

Nowe elektrownie węglowe bez CCS zakazane w Stanach Zjednoczonych

Poniżej sygnalizacja podstawowych parametrów nowego standardu środowiskowego dla elektrowni węglowych w Stanach Zjednoczonych, opublikowanego przez Agencję Ochrony Środowiska (EPA).


Opublikowane przez Agencję Ochrony Środowiska Stanów Zjednoczonych (EPA) standardy emisji gazów cieplarnianych dla nowych instalacji wytwarzających energię elektryczną dotyczą nowych instalacji opalanych paliwami kopalnymi powyżej 25 MWe. Standard emisji ustalono na poziomie 1000 funtów (1 funt (lb) = 0.45359237 kg) CO2 na 1 megawatogodzinę (lb CO2/MWh) i został on oparty na emisyjności szeroko w USA stosowanej technologii gazowej (NGCC).

W ww. standardzie mieści się przeciętnie stosowana w USA instalacja gazowa (800 do 850 funtów CO2 na megawat) dla elektrowni węglowej ten wskaźnik to 1,768 lb CO2/MWh.

Z opublikowanej przez EPA dokumentacji wynika wyraźnie, iż elektrownie węglowe mogą wypełnić ww. standard emisyjny jedynie stosując technologię CCS (carbon capture and storage).

Nowy standard miałby zastosowanie do nowych jednostek wytwórczych i nie nakłada ograniczeń na istniejące już źródła.


Nowym elektrowniom węglowym udostępniono opcję wyboru sposobu wypełnienia standardu: albo poprzez wychwyt około 50 % CO2 od początku działania instalacji albo poprzez późniejsze zastosowanie bardziej wydajnej instalacji CCS pozwalającej na spełnienie standardu przeciętnie w ciągu trzydziestoletniego okresu.

Wg EPA trzydziestoletni okres rozliczeniowy ma na celu zapewnienie elastyczności operatorom instalacji, na wypadek problemów z rozruchem instalacji CCS lub krótkoterminowych awarii instalacji zakłócających jej zdolność do wychwytu dwutlenku węgla.

W drugim z wymienionych wariantów obowiązujący wskaźnik od początku działalności elektrowni węglowej to 1,800 lb CO2/MWh (brutto) w ciągu dwunastomiesięcznego okresu rozliczeniowego – co wg EPA może być osiągnięte przed zainstalowaniem CCS poprzez wykorzystanie urządzeń na parametry nadkrytyczne.

Nie później niż na początku 11 roku działalności elektrownia będzie zobowiązana w tej opcji  do wypełnienia zredukowanego wskaźnika emisyjności nie więcej niż 600 lb CO2/MWh (brutto) w ciągu dwunastomiesięcznego okresu rozliczeniowego dla pozostałych dwudziestu lat – tak aby średnia ważona emisji CO2 dla całego okresu 30 lat była ekwiwalentna do wskaźnika obowiązującego w pierwszym z wymienionych wariantów tj. 1,000 lb CO2/MWh.


Nowemu standardowi proponowanemu przez EPA nie będą podlegać tzw. źródła przejściowe tj. takie które otrzymały wstępne zezwolenia na budowę przed datą opublikowania standardu, których budowa rozpocznie się w ciągu 12 miesięcy. Ocenia się, iż około 15 źródeł otrzymało ww. wstępne zezwolenia na budowę do czasu opublikowania standardu lecz w tym terminie jeszcze nie rozpoczęły budowy.


Mając na uwadze niemałe koszty wyposażenia elektrowni węglowej w instalację CCS, (zarówno na poziomie jej budowy, jak i późniejszej eksploatacji – uwzględniając obniżenie sprawności) interesujące jest, iż EPA uważa, iż wdrożenie proponowanego standardu nie będzie pociągać za sobą zauważalnych kosztów dla podmiotów nim objętych.

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