Earth2Tech has its ongoing “Ethanol Deathwatch” series but it seems that proposed coal power plants are seeing an equally bad mortality rate these days. Citizen action groups and U.S. regulatory committees have taken note and are compiling lists of withdrawn or blocked coal-fired proposals. In Texas […]

Earth2Tech has its ongoing “Ethanol Deathwatch” series but it seems that proposed coal power plants are seeing an equally bad mortality rate these days. Citizen action groups and U.S. regulatory committees have taken note and are compiling lists of withdrawn or blocked coal-fired proposals. In Texas alone, the acquisition of TXU Corp. has scuttled plans for 8 new coal power plants.

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We’ve been combing through lists and reading reports from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and configured this map of coal-fired power plants that have been nixed over the last two years. So far we’ve charted 21 projects in 15 different states amounting to over 16 gigawatts of power (note: this does not include the TXU plant cancellations).

The world’s energy needs are growing rapidly, particularly in India and China, so coal, being one of the cheapest options, is attractive. In May NETL announced there were 151 new plants proposed, while they say 145 gigawatts of coal-fired powered will supposedly be needed by 2030 to meet energy consumption demands. But by October NETL had lowered that number of proposed plants to 121. Given coal is such a dirty energy source, it’s climate change repercussions are starting to be taken into consideration when deciding on whether to build new coal-power plants.

Utilities are having more difficulty getting their proposed plants built, due to the growing concerns about the effects of global warming, as well as the promise of coming carbon regulation. Additionally, the costs of constructing the plants is going up as India and China’s appetite for coal is sucking up the world’s engineering expertise and materials. India and China added 930 megawatts and 90 gigawatts in 2006 respectively. This is in contrast to the U.S.’s addition of 600 megawatts in the same period.


We wanted to give some thanks to several sites we read while compiling this research:

Palang Thai
Invisible Green Hand
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana

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  1. Hopefully some of these cancelled coal plants will be replaced with nuclear power plants instead. Yes, nuclear is controversial, but overall, an easier problem to pass on to our grandchildren than an atmosphere choked with too much CO2.

  2. Of Google Maps, Coal and Climate Change – GigaOM Thursday, December 27, 2007

    [...] Malik, Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 11:26 AM PT Comments (0) The team at Earth2Tech has put together a nice Google Maps mash-up that shows coal plants that have been cancelled due to concerns over climate change and [...]

  3. Folks are forgetting about the existing coal-fired plants. Most of the plant owners snuck around the EPA requirements with special interest legislation. There are more modern scrubbers available that can solve most of the problems while alternatives are found.

    It’s time to force electric companies to improve the cleanliness of the output of existing plants. I’m betting that very few of them meet current standards… they don’t have to, but that could be changed if Congress has the political will.

    The scrubbing process, if improved, could remove CO emission until better alternatives are found. It won’t be cheap. Expect to see electric bills increase.
    None of this has an overnight solution.

    In the meantime, with all the cancelled coal plants, how is the nation going to cope with increased demands for electricty due to economic growth?

    Conservation alone may not be the answer.

  4. Facts: coal-fired power produces 40% of all CO2, 33% of all mercury and 66% of acid rain. In some states like Ohio, EVERY body of water is contaminated with mercury. One in ten (some studies say one in six) women of child-bearing age in the U.S. have so much mercury in their bodies that she is at risk for having a child with serious neurological disorders.

    Acid rain is a problem that is only getting bigger.
    According to Peabody, coal use soared 30% in the past 5 years (2001-2006), and will increase dramatically over the next couple of decades.

    Coal mining wastes are the largest waste stream in the U.S., and coal combustion wastes are second.

    U.S. coal peaked a few years ago in terms of BTU (heat value) per pound — meaning that we need to burn more coal for the same amount of heat/electricity.

    2/3 of a coal plant’s energy is lost as waste heat.

    Nine IGCC (aka “clean” coal) plants have been cancelled or put on hold according to Emerging Energy Research, Oct. 5, 2007, “TECO, Nuon Cancellations Underscore IGCC’s Woes.” Since the report was issued, 2 more IGCC’s have been cancelled: Colorado and Orlando, for a total of at least eleven cancelled IGCCs. The Orlando plant is notable bc it rec’d $235 million in federal funds, which it must now return.

    These plants are NOT economic; and although CO2 can be “captured”, the entire process, from capture to compression to transportation to re-pressurization to storage — is enormously expensive and risky.

    Renewable energy is cost-compeititive. Xcel Energy’s recently submitted Colorado Resource Plan estimated these capital costs:
    – wind-$1645/kW (with Production Tax Credit);
    – wind-$2,000/kW (no PTC);
    – concentrating solar with 6 hrs thermal storage-$2572;
    – IGCC with 50% capture-$3912/kW;
    – pulverized coal, dry cooled with 50% capture-$3688/kW.

    Energy efficiency is 1-3 cents/kWh! http://www.xcelenergy.com/XLWEB/CDA/0,3080,1-1-1_41994_45385-42116-2_68_135-0,00.html -(go to Vol. 1, p.1-55)

    WE CAN DO BETTER! Do we want to leave our children a nightmare world of rising oceans, ever-larger wildfires, increasing hurricanes, and coastal cities under water? How about drought, crop failure and heat waves? Why go there, when it’s cheaper to go with wind and solar?

  5. Climate Change Maps: U.S. Carbon Sources « Earth2Tech Monday, December 31, 2007

    [...] Fehrenbacher No Comments Posted December 31st, 2007 at 10:55 am in Energy After posting our coal plant deathwatch map last week, several readers have emailed us about various climate change maps that they’ve [...]

  6. Nancy is correct, however, the longer we put off building the new, cleaner more efficient coal plants, the longer the inefficient, dirty plants have to remain on line. We’re facing the same issue in nuclear plants, oil refineries, and gas-fired plants. We block the construction of better technology forcing us to rely on outdated, dirtier production.

    It would be nice to use alternative energy, but open-space advocates block solar production and when you put it in remote areas, the cost of transmission takes it out of cost effectiveness. The open-space people are joined by wildlife protectors to block wind generators.

    We’re the only country that hasn’t figured this out yet. France gets 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear. China puts out prefab nuclear plants. Outside of Munich is a huge wind turbine next to a nuclear plant.

    We’re more interested in promoting our pet positions than compromising and creating a solution. Let’s start talking and stop chest beating.

  7. Earth2Tech » Blog Archive » Climate Change Maps: U.S. Carbon Sources Monday, December 31, 2007

    [...] posting our coal plant deathwatch map last week, several readers have emailed us about various climate change maps that they’ve [...]

  8. FAQ: Carbon Capture & Sequestration « Earth2Tech Monday, January 7, 2008

    [...] Pre-Combustion carbon capture is part of what is being pushed as “clean coal.” Some proposed new coal power plants are Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle plants (IGCC) which uses pre-combustion carbon capture. The idea of a IGCC plant involves oxidizing the fuel in a gasifier before combustion. This process produces “syngas” which is made of carbon oxides and hydrogen. The resulting carbon emissions can be pulled off in a relatively pure stream while the hydrogen is burned as fuel. Most newly proposed coal plants from power utilities all over the country are IGCC proposals hoping to preempt emission restrictions by creating cleaner, purer effluent streams. However, even these are having difficulty getting approval or proving profitable. [...]

  9. Your blog is fantastic! We’re building a wiki on coal called coalSwarm. It would be great if you would post your list on the wiki — an article on Cancelled Coal Plants would be great. Or if you’re too busy, please send along anything and I’ll get it posted.

  10. Nancy LaPlaca Monday, January 7, 2008

    Mapmakers: please add Xcel Energy’s proposed IGCC plant in Bent County to the “cancelled or on hold” list (Xcel says “on hold” but I’d bet money it will never get built.)

    Injecting liquids has been proved to cause seismic activity. The US Army Corps injected 165 million gallons of liquid toxic waste from the Rocky Mtn Arsenal in the 1960’s, causing 1,500 seismic events btwn 1962-67 — three above Richter 5.

    Lou: please check your facts. Germany gets 12% of its energy from renewables right now. Colorado just did a report that the state has 96 GW potential for wind and 26 GW potential for central solar — and using only 2% of the sunniest and most suitable land. Thermoelectric power contaminates huge amounts of water. Georgia is experiencing a huge drought — and as many Georgians hopefully know by now, coal and nuke plants use a whoppping 67% of Georgia’s water supply.

    Let’s get smart — and get going!

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