China currently has around 900 GW of installed coal-fired power capacity, representing potential emissions of 85 billion tonnes of CO2 if these plants continue to operate at current levels. Meanwhile under the global climate negotiations, China has committed to peaking its CO2 emissions by 2030. The enduring emissions from China’s coal-fired power plants hence present a significant challenge to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A part-solution can be found in retrofitting existing coal-fired power stations with carbon capture and storage (CCS), which can reduce their emissions rate by around 85%. This analysis shows that over 300 gigawatts of existing coal-fired power capacity meet a number of basic criteria for being suitable for a retrofit.
Access to CO2 storage is a critically important criterion for retrofitting CCS on any power station. Other suitability criteria and cost factors relate to the attributes of the coal-fired plant itself: plant age, size, load factor and local or regional pollution control measures, as well as cooling type, efficiency, steam turbine design and pollution controls.