“Air quality is a concern in many of the world’s major cities. In developing countries, major causes of poor air quality include use of old inefficient technologies and the burning of wood and animal dung indoors where neither electricity nor clean cooking facilities are available. That makes electrification, including with modern coal-fired technology, an important strategy for improving air quality.
“Deploying high efficiency low emission (HELE) coal-fired power plants with modern emissions control technologies is the best way to reduce both carbon and non-carbon emissions from coal. As an example of what can be achieved, in the USA the emissions of NOx, SOx and particulate matter have been reduced by 82, 88 and 96% respectively since 1970, while coal consumption increased by 146%.
“Even in a world with significant growth in renewable energy, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says coal will still be a critical part of the global energy mix for decades to come. That means there must be more investment in cleaner coal technologies, which includes HELE coal-fired power generation and carbon capture and storage (CCS).”
Notes to editors
The SaskPower Boundary Dam coal-fired CCS project in Canada is an example of what can be achieved with cleaner coal technologies. The plant reduces 90% of its CO2 emissions, 100% of SOx emissions and 56% of NOx emissions. The SaskPower Boundary Dam CCS project, operating since October 2014, captures one million tonnes of CO2 annually - equivalent of taking 250,000 cars off the road every year while producing 115 megawatts (MW) of power, which is approximately enough to power 100,000 homes.
According to the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2015 3 billion (more than a third of the global population) use wood, charcoal, or animal waste for cooking and heating
The World Health Organization say household air pollution is world’s largest environmental-health risk, estimated to be responsible for 4,3 million deaths in 2012 (WHO, Ambient and Household Air Pollution and Health 2014)
The effects from indoor air pollution killed almost twice as many people—260 million—than all the 20th century’s wars combined. The tally is four times higher than for outdoor air pollution (Copenhagen Consensus Centre “How Much Have Global Problems Cost the World? A Scorecard from 1900 to 2050”)
Cleaner coal technologies (such as electrostatic precipitators, fabric filters, selective catalytic reduction systems, wet and dry scrubbers, sorbents and activated carbon injection) can reduce the emissions of pollutants from coal combustion by 90% to 99.9%.
An important step in reducing CO2 emissions from coal combustion has been improvements in the thermal efficiencies of coal-fired power stations.