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EPA Targets Our Nation’s Fossil Fueled Power Plants

  • By Admin
  • April 25, 2023

The EPA is getting ready to propose regulations on the control of carbon emissions from our nation’s electric power plants.  If this proposal becomes regulation, it will be the first time they have limited carbon emissions from our power plants, which they claim is responsible for 25% of our greenhouse gas emissions.

If implemented almost all of our 3,400 coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants will be affected. The proposed regulation will require them to reduce, capture, or eliminate greenhouse gas emission by 2040. The technology of capturing these emissions is currently being used by fewer than 20 of these plants.

The regulation would not impose carbon-capture technology but instead would set a limit or cap on the pollution rate.  This would allow the plant operators to choose the technology they would employ, or in some cases, switch to a different fuel source, such as green hydrogen which does not emit these gases or changeover to nuclear, utilizing the new SMR technology.

The EPA has said they intend to be flexible, setting various targets based on the size of the power plant and if it is used intermittently or used as a baseload provider. Plants that are already scheduled for closure, most likely, would not have to comply since the timeframe for implementation is by 2040.

According to the EIA, roughly 60% of our electricity was generated by fossil fuels, like coal, natural gas, and oil, this past year.  If we add in nuclear, the number approaches 80%.

The EPA claims that the incorporation of the tailpipe emission controls – forcing the transition to EV’s, the methane leak controls from oil and gas wells, this proposal of power plant emission controls, and the IRA will put the U.S. on track to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and stop the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2050. 

This proposal will meet stiff opposition, due to many factors. These fossil plants provided 60% of our electricity in 2022 – 2,554 billion kW-hours or 2,554 million MW-hours. How do we replace it and at what cost?  With the surge in electricity demand expected, due to the forced transition to EV’s, can we actually afford to do this?  How long can we tolerate rolling blackouts or brownouts, which seems inevitable, with all these changes? If we replace the loss with renewables, they will need energy storage, assuming demand allows it. Current costs are estimated to be $300 to $600 per kWh?  If we replace this loss with SMR technology, the costs are estimated at $3,000 per kW? Can you or our businesses tolerate electric rates that are 2 to 3 times their current value?  Where will we put these renewables? Do you want these in your backyard or in your view from you home? Renewables take up a lot of space; you need 5-10 acres for a 1MW solar farm, ~80 acres for a 2.5MW wind turbine, and about .3 acres for 1MW battery storage. If we replace these fossil plants with SMR technology, they could be placed at the existing coal-fired or natural gas-fired power plant sites, which wouldn’t change the current viewable environment.

There is much to consider!

Photo Credit: The Merrick Group