Understanding the complexity of existing fossil fuel power plant decarbonization

iScience. 2022 Jul 16;25(8):104758. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.104758. eCollection 2022 Aug 19.

ABSTRACT

Growing national decarbonization commitments require rapid and deep reductions of carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fuel power plants. Although retrofitting existing plants with carbon capture and storage or biomass has been discussed extensively, yet such options have failed to provide evident emission reductions at a global scale so far. Assessments of decarbonization technologies tend to focus on one specific option but omit its interactions with competing technologies and related sectors (e.g., water, food, and land use). Energy system models could mimic such inter-technological and inter-sectoral competition but often aggregate plant-level parameters without validation, as well as fleet-level inputs with large variability and uncertainty. To enhance the accuracy and reliability of top-down optimization models, bottom-up plant-level experience accumulation is of vital importance. Identifying sweet spots for plant-level pilot projects, overcoming the technical, financial, and social obstacles of early large-scale demonstration projects, incorporating equity into the transition, propagating the plant-level potential to generate fleet-level impacts represent some key complexity of existing fossil-fuel power plant decarbonization challenges that imposes the need for a serious re-evaluation of existing fossil fuel power plant abatement in energy transition.

PMID:35942095 | PMC:PMC9356183 | DOI:10.1016/j.isci.2022.104758

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