A top GE executive has this week explained how the company plans to continue producing products in the clean coal space, in a bid to lower the environmental impact of coal-fired power plants.
GE Power global sales and marketing leader for steam power systems, Michael Keroullé, told Engineering News Online that coal is a “hard sell”, particularly after last year’s climate agreement in Paris, but the reality is that although declining, it still forms a major part of the mix for various countries around the world, and therefore clean coal technology has a role in keeping those emissions down.
Keroullé said the company wants to “change the narrative” having recently launched its ‘Smarter. Cleaner. Steam Power’ initiative, which punts high-efficiency solutions, overlain with digital systems, to lower the environmental impact of coal-fired plants.
“If all existing coal plants achieved just 40 per cent efficiency, the impact on CO2 emissions would already be considerable, at around 2 Gt annually,” he says, arguing that 50 per cent efficiency across the coal power plant fleet would be a “game changer”.
Keroullé added that about 95 per cent of global demand will come from fast-growing economies, including some in Africa, where coal is often the most affordable and available primary-energy source.
However, it cannot be “business as usual”. For coal to receive political and financial backing, utilities and private developers will need to embrace higher-efficiency plants, which produce fewer greenhouse gases for every tonne burnt and emit far lower levels of pollutants, such as sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides.
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