Air Emissions from Power Generation in China

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China's power sector's heavy reliance on coal results in significant emissions of local air pollutants, SO2, NOX and PM [16]. Sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants are a result of naturally occurring sulfur content in the Chinese coal. In 2000, total SO2 emissions in China were reported to be about 20 million tonnes, which increased to 26 million tonnes in 2005 [9]. Emissions of SO2 from coal-fired plants are primarily responsible for acid rain problems in the southwestern cities of China [13]. China has undertaken an ambitious plan to reduce emissions of SO2 by installing flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems. In 2003, only about 15 GW (~5% of total installed capacity in 2003) had FGD installations. However, by 2007, over half the generation capacity had FGD installations in place [13, 17]. Nonetheless, the emission limits on new coal-fired power plants are significantly higher than its European and US counterparts [10]. To improve local air quality, China would have to tighten limits on air emissions from new coal-fired power plants, and deploy end-of-pipe controls and combustion modifications on existing capacity.

NOx emissions in China were reported to be about 12 million tonnes in 2005, with coal combustion having the largest share, followed by industry and transport sector. Most of the power plants have electrostatic precipitators installed, therefore PM emissions from power plants is not a major concern, although emissions of smaller particulates (with diameter less than 2.5 mm) would still be an issue. However, coal combustion in small and village enterprises (without adequate controls) results in large amount of particulate emissions. Mercury emissions from coal combustion, are also an important environmental concern in China. China is actively pursuing collaborative efforts with the US to control mercury emissions from coal combustion.

China's energy related CO2 emissions in 2005 were estimated to be 5,100 million tonnes. Largest share of these emissions came from the power generation sector (Fig. 11.7). Almost all of these emissions from power sector can be attributed to the combustion of coal. In the IEA reference case, power sector emissions are expected to grow at an annual rate of 3.7% in 2030. While total energy related emissions are expected to more than double in period 2005-2030, the share of the power sector GHG emissions is expected to increase to 52% [9].

On the supply side, key options to reduce GHG emissions from the power sector include shifting the fuel-mix, accelerating generation fleet turnover, and rapidly deploying cleaner coal technologies. In the national plan for reduction of GHG emissions, China pledged to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel and adopt renewable energy technologies for generation and reduce energy intensity of its economy by 20% in 2010.

Other

Other

Power Generation 49%

Total: 5100 Million Tonnes (2005)

Fig. 11.7 Share of CO2 emissions from energy related sources in China (2005) (Source: IEA [9])

Transport 6.6%

Power Generation 49%

Total: 5100 Million Tonnes (2005)

Fig. 11.7 Share of CO2 emissions from energy related sources in China (2005) (Source: IEA [9])

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