Coal-fired power plants emit a lot of carbon dioxide, so switching to power generation using renewable energy is an urgent priority in order to cope with climate change. A new study that analyzed carbon dioxide emissions from nearly 30,000 power plants in 221 countries around the world found that 5 percent of fossil-fueled power plants were generating 73 percent of their carbon dioxide emissions.
It is true that there is a perception that power plants using renewable energy are good for the environment and power plants using fossil fuels are bad for the environment. To some extent that is correct. However, even in power plants using the same fossil fuels, the power generation efficiency varies and the situation of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants is complicated, such as power plants that operate only when demand is high and do not operate at other times.
The University of Colorado research team created a carbon emission profile of 29,078 fossil fuel power plants in 221 countries. This work is easy for some countries that are releasing detailed information on CO2 emissions per plant, but since detailed data are not available for many countries, emissions have been estimated from the International Energy Agency IEA data or individual plant engineering specifications.
As a result of the analysis, the 10 worst power plants with the highest carbon dioxide emissions are all coal-fired power plants, including Korea, Poland, India, Taiwan, China, Germany, and Japan, which produce all of them. . The Belchatov Power Plant is Europe’s largest coal-fired power plant and accounts for a whopping 20% of Poland’s domestic electricity generation.
There are many worst 10 power plants in Asia, and among them, 3 in Korea, 2 in India, and 1 in Japan were ranked among the world’s 10 worst coal-fired power plants. In China, where coal-fired power generation is active, surprisingly, only one power plant was listed. This is because most of the coal-fired power plants in China were built together at the time of industrialization, so there is little variation in power generation efficiency. Meanwhile, in countries such as Germany, Indonesia, Russia and the United States, there are coal-fired power plants that have different construction times and are surprisingly inefficient.
According to the research team, the 10 worst coal-fired power plants had a whopping 28.2-75.6% or more poor power generation efficiency compared to their own coal-fired power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, the share of the country’s most inefficient 5% of power generation in national carbon dioxide emissions is 25% in China, 75% in the United States and Korea, and 90% in Australia, Germany and Japan.
The study also found that a whopping 73% of global carbon dioxide emissions from power generation are emitted by the most inefficient and worst-case 5% power plants. These 5% power plants are said to emit 14 times more carbon dioxide than the average power plant. The research team says why such inefficient power plants are often used is a topic left for future research.
If all 5% of the worst and most inefficient power plants were replaced by power plants using renewable energy, electricity sector carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by 73%. If the power generation efficiency can be raised to the national average level without a dramatic change up to this point, it is said that in Australia and Germany, carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector will decrease by 25-35%. In addition, by replacing fossil fuels with natural gas, carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by more than 40% in many countries, including the United States.
What is effective is the introduction of Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS), a system that separates, recovers, and deeply stores carbon dioxide emitted from power plants from other gases. The research team estimates that if the worst coal-fired power plant with a recovery efficiency of 85% CCS is integrated into the 5% of the worst coal-fired power plant, the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by 48.9%. Related information can be found here.