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China Outmaneuvers United States Again

September 18, 2015
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China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) recently entered into an agreement with the US Department of Energy (DOE) to collaborate on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) for coal-fired power plants so as to reduce CO2 emissions.

Power Magazine, a power industry publication, reported the agreement as an important step forward, following Obama’s agreement with Chinese leader Xi Jinping where China would cap its CO2 emissions beginning around 2030.

While there may be collaboration on CCS, a highly expensive and probably useless technology, China will continue to build coal-fired power plants using criteria not available in the United States. For information on CCS, see The Why and How of Carbon Capture and Sequestration.

Power Magazine reported that, “To slash emissions,” China’s NEA has stipulated that all new coal-fired power plants must use no more than 0.3 kg of coal per kWh.

There is only one problem:

It allows China to build coal-fired power plants that the EPA prohibits building in the United States.

The EPA has established a regulation that new coal-fired power plants in the United States must not emit more than 1,400 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour (MWh).

John W. Turk, only U.S. ultra-supercritical power plant. Photo courtesy of SWEPCO.

John W. Turk, only U.S. ultra-supercritical power plant. Photo courtesy of SWEPCO.

Under this EPA regulation, no new coal-fired power plants can be built in the United States, because not even the most advanced coal-fired power plants can meet this requirement without CCS … and CCS is not a viable technology.

Using the following conversion data, China’s new limit of 0.3 kg/kWh, equates to 1,627 pounds of CO2 per MWh.

  • 2.2 pounds per kg
  • 1,000 kWh per MWh
  • 4,931 pounds of CO2 per short ton of bituminous coal

China’s NEA knows that new Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants can meet the requirement of emitting less than 1,627 pounds of CO2 per MWh.

USC plants are approximately 40% more efficient than existing coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

China has been building Ultra-supercritical (USC) coal-fired power plants for the past several years and is a leader in USC, so the so-called important step forward merely allows China to continue to do what it has already been doing anyway.

Power Magazine says, “China’s recent measures to swiftly tamp down rampant air pollution have arguably been stricter [than the EPA’s regulations including the CPP].”

But it’s obvious that China’s new regulations are less stringent than the EPA’s, and will allow China to continue to build Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants.

DOE’s recent agreement with China’s NEA does nothing to help the United States, and merely allows China to continue emitting CO2 at a rate higher than from U.S. power plants.

The end result.

  1. China builds new Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants, while the U.S. can’t.
  2. China continues to emit more CO2 than the U.S.


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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Don Shaw permalink
    September 18, 2015 11:15 am

    Seems like the administration is the master of one sided deals. Remember the earlier deal with China where they agreed to begin controlling CO 2 emissions in 2030 while the US would meanwhile reduce CO 2 emissions by 32% .

    When questioned about this Gina McCarty justified the Administrations actions since it is an example to the rest of the world.
    ” 3.) EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted that the steps being taken would only prevent .01 degrees Celsius of warming, but it was the example that counted for the rest of the world. ”

    Note the claims that this is achievable (with solar an wind, really?), creates jobs (while sending industry overseas?), and will save family energy bills (why is electricity so expensive in California?)

    If carbon free energy is so great, why isn’t China adopting it rather than building coal fired plants?

    Why is electricity cost rising in states that are shutting down coal fired plants?
    Why are there so many coal fired plants being built around the world by Japan?

    “The final Clean Power Plan sets flexible and achievable standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, 9 percent more ambitious than the proposal. By setting carbon pollution reduction goals for power plants and enabling states to develop tailored implementation plans to meet those goals, the Clean Power Plan is a strong, flexible framework that will:

    Provide significant public health benefits – The Clean Power Plan, and other policies put in place to drive a cleaner energy sector, will reduce premature deaths from power plant emissions by nearly 90 percent in 2030 compared to 2005 and decrease the pollutants that contribute to the soot and smog and can lead to more asthma attacks in kids by more than 70 percent. The Clean Power Plan will also avoid up to 3,600 premature deaths, lead to 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children, and prevent 300,000 missed work and school days.
    Create tens of thousands of jobs while ensuring grid reliability;
    Drive more aggressive investment in clean energy technologies than the proposed rule, resulting in 30 percent more renewable energy generation in 2030 and continuing to lower the costs of renewable energy.
    Save the average American family nearly $85 on their annual energy bill in 2030, reducing enough energy to power 30 million homes, and save consumers a total of $155 billion from 2020-2030;
    Give a head start to wind and solar deployment and prioritize the deployment of energy efficiency improvements in low-income communities that need it most early in the program through a Clean Energy Incentive Program; and
    Continue American leadership on climate change by keeping us on track to meet the economy-wide emissions targets we have set, including the goal of reducing emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and to 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.”

    All this risk for 0.01 degrees C and an example to the rest of the world based on numerous false claims !!

  2. usurbrain permalink
    September 22, 2015 9:39 am

    Seems to me that the limits on coal are only their to kill coal. PERIOD. Why not the same limit on NatGas power plants? Is the CO2 from coal different than the CO2 from NatGAs? HOW? Supposedly CCTG plants emit 60% of the cot per kwh of that of a similar capacity “conventional” coal plant. Thus 60% of 2.2 lbs = 1.3 lbs. Why does NatGas get a pass? Why isn’t US building USC plants. And why aren’t we Building the newer even more efficient next generation Advanced Ultra Super Critical plants that have even higher efficiencies?

    The only logical reason is – “KILL COAL” PERIOD!

    [And my engineering friends at TVA tell me that the 60% is a “theoretical” number as they NEVER get that that kind of a number in actual practice. Thy claim it is closer to about 75% of the CO2 as their coal plants. Again, the numbers are affected by the changes in power and running at less than full capacity for extended periods. When it is cheaper to run a coal plant the gas plant gets the power reduction demand from the dispatcher.]

    • September 22, 2015 9:43 am

      Thanks. Great comment. Your friends at the TVA are correct, it’s very difficult to determine precisely how much CO2 is emitted from natural gas combined cycle plants.
      It’s fairly obvious that once the extreme environmentalists have killed coal, they will go after natural gas.

  3. permalink
    September 30, 2015 11:24 pm

    “USC plants are approximately 40% more efficient than existing coal-fired power plants in the U.S.”

    Can the U.S. meet this efficiency  like China? And when?

    • October 1, 2015 8:48 am

      Yes. The US could build USC plants now if it weren’t for the EPA’s regulations.


  1. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #197 | Watts Up With That?

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