Carbon dioxide emissions from the world’s fleet of coal and gas plants can be reduced by 10 percent using existing hardware and software upgrades, according to General Electric report released yesterday.
The report comes as countries around the world are looking to transition to lower-carbon energy futures and meet the Paris climate agreement targets. It also comes as the US’ climate regulations face an uncertain future when president-elect Donald Trump takes office in January.
According to the International Energy Agency, about 41 percent of global electricity generation comes from coal-fired power plants and 22 percent comes from gas-fired power plants. The IEA estimates that both fuels will see increased use over the next decade.
GE says its new analysis is the first to quantify the emission reductions of using existing technologies to upgrade coal and gas-fired power plants.
“The technology to make coal and gas more efficient is available now — countries and companies alike should be taking advantage of this to lower their carbon output,” said GE’s Deb Frodl, global executive director of Ecomagination in a statement.
GE used a proprietary set of data for each coal and gas-fired plant in the world for the analysis.
It found potential for coal power plant upgrades include:
- Coal power plants could be made approximately 4 percent more efficient with 2.5 percent in efficiencies coming from turbine and boiler upgrades, and 1.5 percent coming from software improvements.
- Applying all potential upgrades to coal power plants can remove 900 million metric tons of CO2 (11 percent of total coal power emissions).
- China (296 MT) and India (143 MT) are two countries with big opportunities in the coal power sector.
Potential for gas power plant upgrades include:
- Gas-fired power plants could be made about 3.3 percent more efficient with 1.8 percent coming from hardware upgrades and 1.5 percent coming from software improvements. These savings could reduce global gas power emissions by 203 metric tons or 8.8 percent.
- Russia (45 MT) and the US (34) are two countries with big opportunities in the gas power sector.