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FACTDROP: First US carbon emissions standard proposed


First US carbon emissions standard proposed

The proposed standard will not apply to plants burning non-fossil fuels, such as biomass

Πηγή: TCEtoday
By Helen Tunnicliffe
March 28 2012

New power stations limited to 1,000 lb CO2/MWh.

THE US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed the country’s first carbon dioxide emissions limit for new power stations over 25 MW.

The proposed standard will not apply to existing power stations, or those on which will be built in the coming 12 months. The standard, which will be implemented under the US Clean Air Act, would see an emissions limit of 1,000 lb (454 kg) per MW of electricity produced imposed on all new power stations with a capacity of 25 MW or more. In 2009, EPA declared that CO2 is a pollutant, following a Supreme Court ruling ordering them to investigate whether or not it and five other greenhouse gases were a risk to public health and the environment.

EPA says that new combined-cycle gas-fired power stations, which are the preferred type, will be able to meet the limits without modifications, and the proposals are in line with current investment trends. As such, the agency says that it does not expect any “notable” added costs or impacts on electricity price or reliability.

Coal-fired plants, however, are likely to need to employ other technology to reduce emissions, such as CCS. The regulations will allow the use of coal or coke in power stations, through a 30-year average option. This would mean such plants could be built, and add CCS technology as it becomes cheaper and more widely available. Plants opting for this would have to meet an initial standard of 1,800 lb CO2/MWh for the first ten years. For the remaining 20-year period, these plants would be required to reduce their emissions to 600 lb CO2/MW in order to meet the average.

The proposed standard will not apply to plants burning non-fossil fuels, such as biomass.

“Today we’re taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in a statement. “Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies – and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow. We’re putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American-made technology to tackle a challenge that we can’t leave to our kids and grandkids.”

Andy Furlong, IChemE’s director of policy and communications says that the US regulations mirror those in the UK, which proposed a 450 g CO2/KWh limit for new-build power stations in a White Paper published by the government in 2011.

“This will have the intended consequence of killing new unabated coal-fired power stations stone dead. Fans of CCS will be tempted to rejoice but there will be no activity in this area unless substantial government incentives are offered in conjunction with the carbon dioxide cap. Natural gas will come to the rescue in the US given its abundance of shale gas resources. The UK is not so fortunate given its greater dependence on imports, and the stark reality that it is located at the end of a very long pipe,” he says.

EPA will hold public consultations and is inviting public comment for 60 days on its website.

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