Accorrding to the authors of a study released in late December, out of 2 TWe of coal power plant capacity in operation globally today, more than half is less than 14 years old. Climate policy related to limiting CO2-emissions makes the longer-term operation of these plants untenable. So the authors conducted an assessment of a range of available options for future “retrofits” that would maximize re-use of both equipment and jobs while reducing or eliminating emissions.
Decarbonization retrofits considered included carbon capture, fuel conversion, and the replacement of coal boilers with new low-carbon energy sources such as nuclear reactors. They used the Polish coal power fleet as a case study. The most appealing decarbonization retrofits found for Poland turned out to be converting the plant to advanced nuclear power by using high-temperature small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) to replace coal boilers. This type of retrofit lowered upfront capital costs by ~28–35% and levelized cost of electricity by 9–28% compared to a greenfield installation. Their analysis showed that If this type of retrofit were implemented globally by the late 2020s, up to 200 billion tons of otherwise-committed CO2-emissions could be avoided.
Read more at “Retrofit Decarbonization of Coal Plants—A Case Study for Poland,” by Staffan Qvist, Pawel Gladysz, Lukasz Bartela and