New GE analysis: software and hardware upgrades could cut global CO2 Emissions from coal and gas power plants by one billion metric tons

Via General Electric Newsroom

Dec 8, 2016

  • First-of-its-kind analysis shows the potential to reduce CO2 emissions from world’s fleet of coal and gas plants by one billion metric tons (MT) – the equivalent of taking 95 percent of U.S. cars off the road
  • Heavily coal reliant countries, China and India, account for nearly 40 percent of global reductions potential
  • Russia and the U.S. are found to have biggest opportunity to improve gas plant efficiencies

Schenectady, N.Y. – December 5, 2016 – GE today released a first-of-its-kind analysis of global power plants, which found that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the world’s fleet of coal and gas plants can be reduced by 10 percent – the equivalent of removing 95 percent of cars off U.S. roads – when existing hardware and software solutions are fully applied. The analysis is the first to quantify the emission reductions of using existing technologies to upgrade the global fleet of coal and gas-based power plants.

“The technology to make coal and gas more efficient is available now – countries and companies alike should be taking advantage of this to lower their carbon output,” said Deb Frodl, global executive director, Ecomagination, GE. “These actions should be taken as a complement to continued investment in renewable energy sources as we all strive to find carbon reductions across the energy mix.”

GE used a proprietary set of data for each coal and gas-fired plant in the world to uncover potential opportunities to improve plants’ heat rate and lower carbon emissions. The analysis comes as countries around the world are looking for climate saving solutions that will help them transition to a lower carbon energy future.

Potential for Coal Plant Upgrades

  • Coal power plants could be made approximately 4 percent more efficient with 2.5 percent in efficiencies coming from turbine and boiler upgrades, and 1.5 percent coming from software improvements.
  • The analysis also found that applying all potential upgrades to coal power plants can remove 900 million metric tons of CO2 (11 percent of total coal power emissions) – more than the annual CO2 output of the United Kingdom and France combined.
  • China (296 MT) and India (143 MT) are two countries with big opportunities in the coal power sector.

Potential for Gas Power Plant Upgrades

  • Similarly, GE’s analysis estimates that gas-fired power plants could be made approximately 3.3 percent more efficient with 1.8 percent coming from hardware upgrades and 1.5 percent coming from software improvements. These savings could reduce global gas power emissions by 203 metric tons or 8.8 percent.
  • Russia (45 MT) and the U.S. (34) are two countries with big opportunities in the gas power sector.

“Our goal is to provide technology solutions that best meet the needs of our customers and help reduce emissions,” said Paul McElhinney, president & CEO, GE Power Services. “Globally, carbon emissions from coal and gas-fired electricity generation can be reduced by 10 percent annually, and GE’s software and hardware upgrade solutions can help make this a reality with moderate investments in the installed base.”

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), approximately 41 percent of global electricity generation comes from coal-fired power plants and 22 percent comes from gas-fired power plants. The IEA estimates that both fuels will see increased use over the next decade. For markets with significant energy needs and coal reliance, like China and India, upgrades to power plants can help provide cleaner energy options and help countries make progress towards their climate goals. With natural gas playing an increasingly important role in many markets around the world, there is also great opportunity to ensure that it too is being utilized as efficiently as possible.

In response to the findings, GE has set up a dedicated team to provide customers with holistic software, hardware and financing solutions for coal plant upgrades.

Additional findings from GE’s Global Power Plant Analysis include:

  • Upgrades to the entire global coal fleet can save 494 million tons of fuel globally on an annual basis.
  • In the European Union – where there is a goal to reduce emissions 40 percent by 2030 – these solutions can help drive efficiencies from coal reliant countries like Poland where coal accounts for 80 percent of electricity generation.
  • In Africa, South Africa has the biggest opportunity for fuel and carbon savings (23 MT) coming upgrades in the coal power sector.
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