Power plant rule expected to speed shift away from coal

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The administration said Thursday that it will require coal plants and new gas plants to install carbon capture technology to mitigate 90 percent of the plant’s emissions — or find another way to achieve the equivalent climate protections. 


But experts say that rather than try to meet these requirements, coal plants may just retire. 


“What we’ve seen, even without these rules, is that coal generation is falling,” Christopher Knittel, a professor of applied economics at MIT, said. 


“These new rules will certainly push to speed that transition up,” he added.


The Environmental Protection Agency’s analysis finds that the rule could speed up the amount of coal power that comes offline by nearly a quarter between the years 2028 and 2035.


It projects that without the rule 84 gigawatts of coal power would have retired anyway during that period. But, under the rule, that number jumps to 104 gigawatts of power. 


Research firm BloombergNEF has similar findings for this decade. 


Industrial Decarbonization Specialist Julia Attwood said that her firm also projects significant impacts to the coal sector. She estimated that around 44 gigawatts of coal power was due to retire by the end of 2030 anyway, but the rule will cause an additional 30 to 40 gigawatts to go offline during that period


The EPA projects that renewable power will be 4 percent greater than it would be without the rule in 2030, though that tapers off over the years as renewables also grow under the baseline scenario, meaning the rules will result in just 1 percent more renewable energy by 2040.


Read more when a full report runs online this weekend at TheHill.com.

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