Compliance with the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) poses "significant challenges" for coal plants,forcing many to retire rather than make the required retrofits,according to a study commissioned by the Midwest Independent Transmission SystemOperator (MISO). Economists at the Brattle Group evaluated the MATS, which requiresthe US coal and oil fleet to meet certain emissions standards or close by April 2015, with a potential one-year extension. Theprojected retrofits and new construction will require as many as7,590 boilermakers, which is more than four times the number ofboilermakers currently employed in the utility system constructionindustry, the Brattle Group says. The study says the projected amount of retrofits on coal units, andthe amount of new generation required to replace retiring coalunits in the MISO region, will exceed the historical maximumachieved for simultaneous deployments of retrofits and new buildsby 51 to 162 percent, based on MISO s current projections ofretrofit requirements and announced projects. |
While the EPA estimates 93 to 248 GW of coal (measured in Wet FlueGas Desulfurization (FGD) equivalent GW) will require environmentalcontrols upgrades around the country, MISO projects 51 to 58 WetFGD equivalent GW will require upgrades in the Midwest alone. Dr. Metin Celebi, a Brattle principal and lead author of the study,calls the EPA estimates optimistic and MISO s estimates pessimistic. About 30 GW of coal plants have already announced retirement plansnationwide.
To replace these plants and meet load growthrequirements by 2015, another 30 to 84 GW of new generation may beneeded nationally, while 5-26 GW may be needed in MISO, the studysays. Some upgrades can be implemented before 2015 without difficulty,according to study authors, including activated carbon injectionand dry sorbent injection, which coal plants can implement within ayear and a half. It says most projects, however, have a longer leadtime of about three to four years, including wet and dry FGD,baghouses, electrostatic precipitators, and selective catalyticreduction, as well as new gas combustion turbines and combinedcycles. Complying with MATS will ramp up labor, engineering, equipment andconstruction needs, which will likely create substantialbottlenecks in MISO and nationally, the study says. Study authorsexpect these bottlenecks to result in construction delays and costescalation.
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