EPA Proposes New Power Generation Emissions Rules

Image: BigStock

The USA’s Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations with a goal of slashing carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal fired power plants by as much as 30 percent by 2030.

The USA’s power generation sector is the nation’s biggest source of carbon emissions; representing around 38 percent of the total load.

According to the EPA, the average age of the nation’s coal plants is 42 years. Under the EPA’s proposal, which was directed by President Barack Obama; emission targets for power plants could be met in a few different ways – through power plant upgrades, changing from using coal as a fuel to natural gas, enhancing energy efficiency or increasing uptake of renewable energy.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said the announcement marked a defining moment in American history.

“As a nation, we’re poised to finally turn the page from sooty smokestacks to sunnier skies,” he said.

Mr. Resch says the nation’s solar industry is ready to help states meet the challenge.

“Simply put, solar can be a real game-changer for regulators looking to meet the changing needs of their state. Why? Because solar energy is reliable, cost competitive, environmentally friendly and easily scalable, fitting the needs of any state’s Section 111 (d) compliance plan.”

As we reported earlier, cumulative operating solar PV capacity reached 13,395 MW at the end of Q1 2014 in the USA and 74% of new electricity generation capacity in the USA added during the period was solar.

“Solar is now the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, employing 143,000 Americans and accounting for nearly 30 percent of all new electric generation capacity installed in 2013 – second only to natural gas. All totalled, solar is generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to power 3 million homes,” said Mr. Resch.

The EPA says the proposed regulations will result in the avoidance of up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days – and this will provide up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits. It also states the efforts will reduce electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.

With the renewable energy revolution gaining pace and spurred on by initiatives such as the EPA proposes, it seems investing in coal is becoming an increasingly risky affair.