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Current Emissions and Future Mitigation Pathways of Coal-Fired Power Plants in China from 2010 to 2030

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journal contribution
posted on 25.09.2018, 00:00 by Dan Tong, Qiang Zhang, Fei Liu, Guannan Geng, Yixuan Zheng, Tao Xue, Chaopeng Hong, Ruili Wu, Yu Qin, Hongyan Zhao, Liu Yan, Kebin He
As the largest energy infrastructure in China, the power sector consumed approximately half of China’s coal over the past decade and threatened air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement targets. In this work, we assessed the evolution of coal-fired power plants and associated emissions in China during 2010–2030 by using a unit-based emission projection model, which integrated the historical power plant information, turnover of the future power plant fleet, and evolution of end-of-pipe control technologies. We found that, driven by stringent environmental legislation, SO2, NOx, and PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 μm in diameter) emissions from coal-fired power plants decreased by 49%, 45%, and 24%, respectively, during 2010–2015, compared to 15% increase in CO2 emissions. In contrast to ever-increasing CO2 emissions until 2030 under current energy development planning, we found that aggressive energy development planning could curb CO2 emissions from the peak before 2030. Owing to the implementation of a “near zero” emission control policy, we projected emissions of air pollutants will significantly decrease during 2016–2030. Early retirement of small and low-efficiency power plants would further reduce air pollutants and CO2 emissions. Our study explored various mitigation pathways for China’s coal-fired power plants, which could reduce coal consumption, air pollutants, and CO2 emissions and improve energy efficiency.