The "Air Pollution Management" Newsletter

June 2008
No. 362

U.S. is the Only Wealthy FGD Country without FGD on All Coal-fired Units

One big market for activated carbon is for plants which do not install scrubbers. But it is unlikely that there will be any plants without scrubbers by 2023. Germany and Japan installed FGD on all coal-fired power plants in the 1980s. Taiwan and Korea utilize FGD on their generators. Even the new EU members are installing FGD. China has already committed to as much as 300,000 MW of FGD.

There is no logic in the long term exemption of old dirty plants from the same controls which are installed on new units. In fact logic would dictate stricter controls to compensate for the lower efficiency. A new 500-MW plant is 30 percent more efficient than an old one. Therefore to achieve the same SO2 emissions per year, the old plant needs to meet a lower emission limit in lbs/MMBtu.


The only logic in exemption of old plants is to provide a grace period for retirement of plants which would otherwise have to install FGD. This has happened in Europe where plants had until 2007 to decide whether to retire or install FGD.


The U.S. is extremely unlikely to become the only wealthy country without stringent FGD control on all coal-fired units. The U.S. must interact with countries around the world in order to achieve its goals. Many pollutants are global. One study shows that most of the mercury deposition in the Western U.S. comes from other countries. China is being blamed for some of the SOx and NOx damage to mountain tops in California.

Some isolationists argue that trade tariffs should be increased due to the higher expense of environmental control in the U.S. It would be a little difficult to have to accept the reverse logic.


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