The Obama administration’s EPA’s climate permit rule took effect in January 2011; for the first time in the US, limiting greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants.
There are really only two options for the coal industry in response. Comply or die. Most older coal plants have said they will simply shut down, unable to meet the tough new EPA rule. But there’s also another option. One Michigan coal plant has been designed to comply with the new EPA law.
Michigan has given final approval, according to Clean Energy Report, for a new coal-fired power plant in Rogers City to meet lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions limits set by the EPA.
This will be the first ever US coal plant built to meet the lower emissions limit.
To reduce emissions, the plant will burn 20% biomass, a typical European approach to environmental compliance, but local activists have complained that (a more expensive) IGCC technology would have reduced its emissions more. The GHG limit for the Michigan plant sets an annual carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) of 6 million tons per year and an hourly limit of 2.1 pounds of CO2e per kilowatt hour.
One US company is willing to step up to the plate the way that they do it in Europe and find a way to make coal a little cleaner.
The Michigan coal plant will have two circulating fluidized bed (CFB) boilers with a maximum heat input rate of 3,030 million British thermal units per hour that will have criteria air pollutant controls including selective non-catalytic reduction, limestone injection, polishing scrubber, fabric filter and sorbent injection.
Despite the kicking and screaming by the coal industry in response to the tough new EPA greenhouse gas limits, transmission operators say there will be no disruption in electricity supplies as coal plants shut down in response to the new EPA GHG limits. No Risk to Grid as Coal Plants are Shut Down, Says Transmission Operators
One reason? The Recovery Act Will Add 16 GW of Renewable Energy that will go on the grid within the next few years. Coal is being replaced by new renewable energy like wind and solar over the next few years. And many traditional coal-fired plants themselves will largely be switched over to gas-fired plants.
Overall energy production in the US will be much cleaner over the next decades as a result of the Obama administration’s behind-the-scenes success in both speeding up renewables and clamping down on coal plants’ greenhouse gas emissions.
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