Can we retrofit coal plants to make them greener?



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    A March 2009 symposium at the MIT Energy Initiative advised that coal plants be retrofitted with with the capture of CO2 from flue gases after coal is combusted, or post-combustion capture technology. Participants also identified a range of additional technology options for cutting CO2 emissions, including efficiency retrofits, co-firing of coal plants with low-carbon fuels, rebuilding existing subcritical units to ultra-supercritical units with capture, more extensive rebuilds such as oxy-combustion or Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle with capture, poly-generation, and the repowering of existing boilers with alternative fuels such as biomass or natural gas. BUT many other scientists and environmentalists have argued that coal plants are already obsolete beyond the point of repair, and point out that retrofitting the existing, aging coal plants would cost trillions of dollars nationwide. Equally-productive alternative energy sources, on the other hand, can already be implemented for far less money than retrofitting the coal plants would cost.

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