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Just 5 percent of the world’s power plants account for nearly three-quarters of global carbon emissions from electricity generation, a recent study showed.
And all those power plants are coal-fired facilities.
A team from the University of Colorado Boulder, led by Don Grant, Professor of Sociology and Fellow of the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder, analyzed the emissions profiles of 29,078 fossil-fuel power plants from 221 countries and found which ones were the “super polluters”.
Unsurprisingly, the most polluting power plants turned out to be all coal-fired plants which operated inefficiently for the amount of energy they produce.
The top ten most polluting plants were in Poland, India, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Germany, and Japan, according to the research published in Environmental Research Letters. South Korea has three coal-fired power plants among the top ten super polluters. India has two, and the other countries mentioned above have one each.
According to the authors of the research, the emission intensity of the ten worst plants exceeded those of other fossil fuel power plants in their home countries in 2018 at a rate 28.2 percent to 75.6 percent higher than their counterparts. This suggests that the plants are very inefficient in burning coal, the research showed.
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“Why these relatively inefficient plants are used so heavily is a topic ripe for future investigation,” the authors wrote.
The study examined how global emissions from electricity generation could be reduced if the super polluters were to cut their emissions. If the top 5 percent of polluters lowered their emission intensity to the global average for fossil fuel plants, the world’s CO2 emissions could drop by 25 percent, the study found. If coal and oil plants in the top 5 percent of polluters switched to natural gas, global emissions would drop by 29.5 percent. Finally, if the top 5 percent of polluters incorporated carbon capture and storage (CCS), global carbon emissions from electricity generation would drop by 48.9 percent, according to the study.
“One of the challenges climate activists face is determining who exactly is to blame for the climate crisis,” Grant told VICE. “Our study begins to address this problem in identifying super polluters.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.