Thanks to Rachel Frazin of The Hill, we have a good idea of the flimsiness of the EPA’s recent proposed ruling on coal- and gas-fired power plants.
She observes that under the ruling, coal-fired power plants must cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent by 2030 if they expect to operate beyond 2039, while the largest natural gas plants (and new ones) must reduce their emissions “90 percent by 2035 or run primarily on low-carbon hydrogen energy by 2038.”
“[N]either hydrogen nor the other technology, known as carbon capture, is widely employed by the power sector—leading some experts to question whether their use can be scaled up in time to meet the rule’s requirements.” In fact, the only power plant in the U.S. to use carbon capture shut down three years ago due to falling oil prices and only now plans to start up again.
In a nutshell, carbon capture and “green” (low-carbon) hydrogen technologies are in their infancy. Frazin quotes Brandon Delis of EPRI, a research institute for the power industry, “In the power generation industry, bringing new technologies to that scale, we typically want to see a number of full-scale demonstrations prior to calling it commercial-ready.”
Another industry expert says that getting federal approval for such technology is also a serious challenge! It takes six years to get approval for carbon capture right now.
Perhaps one government hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. Meanwhile, the alternative is shutting down plants, especially coal-fired ones. This is not a favorable option, as servicing the electricity grid is becoming more important—and more difficult.
Image of a coal-fired power plant by Thorsten Frenzel for Pixabay.