Coal is the principal fuel for the generation of electrical power globally. It is the leading source of power generation in OECD countries and the dominant fuel source behind economic growth in non-OECD countries. However, while providing over 40% of the world’s electricity, it is responsible for more than 70% of the CO2 arising from electricity generation.
The IEA carried out a project to examine the potential to improve the performance of existing coal-fired plants. Two power units in China were selected to showcase measures that would improve their net efficiency. The results built on the efficiency gains made under China’s national energy efficiency improvement programme and demonstrated the enormous potential to improve performance, with each percentage point increase capable of reducing CO2 emissions by many millions of tonnes over a unit’s operational lifetime. Experiences learned in China can be applied to improving coal-fired power plant efficiency worldwide.