Coal-fired power plant operators can make substantial reductions in actual greenhouse gases as well as in other emissions through a holistic approach on technology, according to a report by the McIlvaine Company (www.mcilvainecompany.com). The report, titled “Power Plant Environmental Burden,” outlines a strategy whereby operating costs would be reduced while the cost of electricity and lifecycle costs would not increase. Furthermore, the report predicts a holistic-oriented strategy would greatly boost the U.S. economy.

Robert McIlvaine, president of McIlvaine Company, says, in a prepared statement, “We do not have to wait until CO2 capture technologies are commercialized. CO2 and other equivalent emissions can be reduced 85 percent with a low-cost, but innovative holistic approach.” McIlvaine recommends adopting a strategy of replacing old coal-fired plants with new efficient ones to enable a cleaner environment and a better economy and no rise in electricity cost.

As part of its report, McIlvaine has created an index that includes a range of air pollutants and greenhouse gases. It makes the case that most decisions to reduce air pollutants result in greenhouse gas increases. The energy required to remove NOx, for example, from stack gases results in added electricity consumption and, therefore increased CO2 emissions. The reverse is occasionally true as well — increases in particulate emissions will lead to global cooling. However, McIlvaine says the harm caused by the increased particulate emissions would far outweigh the greenhouse gas benefits.

In McIlvaine’s index all air pollutants have been numerically equated based on the burden (harm) they cause. Air toxics have been ranked based on the EPA draft “Lesser Quantity Emission Rate (LQER).” NOx, SO2 and particulate have been ranked based on a variation of the LQER. This equates particulate with the most benign toxic and equates NOx and SOx at 1/10 the most benign toxic.

Environmental Burden In Millions of Tons For U.S. Coal Plants
CO2 Value $20/ton CO2 Value $10/ton

Pollutant
Present Emissions
Best Present Cost Effective Tech
Cost Effective Holistic Approach
Present Emissions
Best Present Cost Effective Tech
Cost Effective Holistic Approach
CO2
2000
1400
840
1000
700
420
Particulate
1000
100
95
1000
100
95
SO2
900
30
28
900
30
28
NOx
400
40
38
400
40
38
Mercury
500
25
25
500
25
25
Air Toxics
500
25
25
500
25
25
Total
5300
1620
1051 4300 920 631
Source: McIlvaine Company