China Outmaneuvers United States Again

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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