Improving Existing Plants

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Second, the key developing countries already have a large existing base of power generation technologies, and it is important to consider options to reduce GHG emissions from this existing fleet of power plants. These efforts require relatively smaller capital investment and shorter payback periods, as they are often based on proven and tested technical know-how. As noted in the previous sections, the generation efficiency of existing power plants in all three countries can be significantly improved, especially since there is a large portfolio of smaller, older, and inefficient plants. The efficiency of existing plants can be increased by repowering or upgrading existing facilities and improving energy auditing and management practices. The efficiency gains could yield substantial reduction in primary energy consumption and GHG emissions. In the medium-to-long term, many of the smaller plants need to be retired and replaced with new efficient technologies wherever possible. Such retirements should be particularly targeted at older and more inefficient coal-based power plants. Several power plants in Mexico utilize natural-gas fired steam cycle for power generation, which has much lower efficiency than natural gas fired combined cycle configuration. Conversion of these steam cycle units to combined-cycle plants offer considerable scope to increase fleet-efficiency and reduce natural gas consumption and GHG emissions. Even NGCC fleets introduced in this decade in Mexico and India have the potential to improve efficiency to about 60%, which is the efficiency of the best available combined-cycle plant.

In the short-to-medium term, it is also very important for all three countries to strengthen and strictly enforce the standards for air emissions (particulates, SOx, NOx, and mercury) - both for existing fleet as well as for new capacity. Although the control of these local pollutants would slightly reduce net efficiency and capacity, it is critical to prevent socio-environmental problems in all three countries. Furthermore, a clean flue gas is critical for any economic retrofitting of post-combustion carbon capture technologies [20]. In addition, conservation and efficient use of water is another important aspect for fossil-fuel based power plants, as these plants require large volumes of water for cooling.

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