Coal, Emissions, Gas

Sulfur Dioxide Power Plant Emissions Fall Faster Than Coal Use

By Editors of Power Generation

Though coal-fired electricity generation fell 32 percent from 2006 to 2015, a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates sulfur dioxide emissions from all types of power plants fell by 73 percent during the same period.

The report indicated the drop in coal use was a large contributor to the fall in sulfur dioxide, as natural gas only has trace amounts of sulfur.

Another major contributor to the drop in sulfur was the installation of new environmental equipment. The federal mercury and air toxics rule required plants to install pollution control equipment by no later than April 15, 2016. These devices include dry sorbet injection systems and flue gas desulfurization systems, also known as scrubbers.

Finally, utilities either retired high-polluting plants or only used them during times of peak consumption.

Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky had the highest sulfur dioxide emissions in 2014, though they were also among the top five states to retire coal generation in 2015.