by William Fang, Deputy General Counsel and Climate Issue Director Edison Electric Institute and Eric Holdsworth, Director, Climate Programs Edison Electric Institute
With the world’s energy demands growing alongside concerns about climate change, an innovative effort to accelerate the global development and deployment of clean energy technologies took a big step forward in early November. American Electric Power, Southern Company and Tampa Electric hosted the first round of utility site visits for the six member nations participating in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP). Approximately 100 utility executives and engineers from Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States visited American utilities’ power plants to examine methods for reducing power plant emissions and study advanced clean coal systems, including integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology.
The site visits were part of a week-long series of meetings that U.S. officials from the State and Energy Departments, Environmental Protection Agency and other governmental departments arranged with electric utility industry representatives to demonstrate the best ways to improve efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions at coal-based generation facilities.
After their initial meetings in Columbus, Ohio, the participants split into two groups: One visited AEP facilities to examine steps the company has taken to improve efficiency and reduce emissions; the other group traveled to Wilsonville, Ala., to visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Power Systems Development Facility, operated by Atlanta-based Southern Company, and then moved on to Tampa Electric Company’s IGCC power generation facility, located just outside Tampa, Fla.
More site visits are planned in 2007. The long-term goal is to establish best practices and an information flow among the member nations on engineering concepts and on experiences of new coal-based plants technologies, such as IGCC units, and the related issues of carbon capture and sequestration.
Background on APP
The APP was launched last January. The six partner nations are involved in a collaborative relationship that includes both government and private sectors. The APP members hope that by harnessing public-private partnerships they will be able to address climate change in ways that promote sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty. The six partner countries represent about half of the world’s economy, population and energy use, and produce roughly half of all carbon dioxide emissions.
APP has the potential to create a significant impact on greenhouse gases — the six member nations produce about 50 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. According to preliminary data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the CO2 emissions of China and India exceeded those of the United States last year. In addition, EIA is projecting that in eight years, the CO2 emissions from non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations (such as APP members China, India and South Korea) will exceed those produced by OECD countries.
By 2030, the International Energy Agency estimates that global CO2 emissions will rise 60 percent compared to today’s levels, with two-thirds of the increase driven by developing country emissions. To make a difference on greenhouse gases will involve, at a minimum, flattening the greenhouse gas emissions’ intensity curve for developing countries to a slope closer to that of developed nations. And slowing, stopping and even reversing these emissions will require the development and deployment globally of existing and next-generation technologies.
In addition to the climate issue, the APP members are also seeking to promote the deployment of technologies that improve energy efficiency, lower emissions and enhance the quality of life. APP members have committed to action plans that will connect their governments, private sectors and research communities through eight public-private sector task forces. These task forces will make recommendations, expand trade, and share best practices in the following areas:
- Power Generation and Transmission
- Cleaner Fossil Fuels
- Renewable Energy and Distributed Generation
- Coal Mining
- Buildings and Appliances
In the task forces related to electricity, the APP members will work to do the following:
- Improve the efficiency and reliability of the electric power systems in each member nation
- Accelerate the deployment of coal gasification and other clean coal technologies
- Expand the use of renewables to provide lower-cost, clean power in areas without access to modern energy services
- Capture and use coal-bed methane as a clean energy source
Utility Industry’s Climate Efforts
EEI is encouraging electric utilities to get involved in APP. Each utility interested in participating in the APP initiative will be asked to identify projects in which they would like to engage. These projects will include “best practices/peer review” exchanges for power generation, transmission and distribution. Electric utilities interested in these projects will identify efficiency activities/practices that they would like to highlight (e.g., turbine blade change-outs, safety practices) and plants they would be willing to open up to visits from plant engineers from the other APP nations. Other potential areas under consideration for involvement under the APP initiative are coal ash reuse and renewable energy projects.
The electric utility industry’s involvement with APP is the latest effort to take voluntary action to address the climate change issue. The industry’s formal efforts began with the Climate Challenge in 1994, and continue today with the Power Partners effort. The projects are paying off. Through measures such as increasing energy-efficiency, and investing in forestry and fly ash reuse projects, the industry reduced, avoided or sequestered an estimated 282 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions in 2004 alone. This was nearly two-thirds of the total reductions and offsets reported to the government that year.
The APP will enable America’s electric utilities to continue this progress. To learn more about the APP, please visit: www.asiapacificpartnership.org.
For more information about the electric utility industry’s involvement in the Asia-Pacific Partnership initiative, please contact Eric Holdsworth at the Edison Electric Institute, 202-508-5103/[email protected].