Duke’s Edwardsport plant in Indiana is a “coal gasification” plant, meaning the coal gets turned into a gas and some of the pollutants get filtered out, before moving into the turbine. Company spokesman Chad Eaton says it is the most efficient coal plant in the country, since opening this summer. But, even it would surpass the limit the EPA announced today on the amount of emissions new coal power plants will be able to release.
The EPA will cap coal emissions at 1100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour (lbs/MWh), about a third less than the 1,500 lbs/MWh the newest plants emit, according to the World Coal Association.
“We don’t believe that technology commercially exists right now,” says Chad Eaton, a Duke Energy spokesman.
Eaton says companies would have to develop new technology to capture and store carbon. Some companies have begun research and development on carbon capture for coal plants, but no coal plants have actually installed the technology. Duke built the Edwardsport plant with the capability to install it later.
Duke also has no current plans for new coal plants, but it and other power companies are basically arguing the new EOA rule removes them from future discussion. And, they argue, that will create a problem down the line for a nation that relies on coal more than any other fuel source.
“We’ve got to maintain the diverse fuel mix, and coal has to big part of that fuel mix going forward,” says Eaton. “That’s essential for the country, and it’s essential for us from an affordability standpoint and a reliability standpoint.”
Coal is the highest emitting fossil fuel and it’s the world’s single biggest source of carbon pollution. The EPA estimates it accounted for about 45 percent of total carbon emissions in 2010.