WRI develops new tool to measure emissions

THE WORLD Resources Institute has developed a new way for coal-fired power plants in developing countries to measure their carbon-dioxide emissions.

Staff Reporter

Initially focusing on power plants in China, WRI has been working with the China Electricity Council to develop technical resources for determining the emissions through a multi-stakeholder, research-based process.

The team has developed a methodology for measuring emissions, informed through analysis of international best practices and the current measuring and reporting practices related to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) accounting in China’s power sector.

The methodology is set to be the basis for new accounting standards for Chinese plants, WRI said.

WRI estimates that the total capacity of coal-fired power generation units in China will exceed 960GW and account for 64% of overall generation capacity by 2015 and said the effective measurement of emissions is a critical first step in their management.

To implement the methodology, WRI and its partners have developed an Excel-based calculation tool for Chinese coal-fired power plants to help users quantify the GHG emissions from individual power generation facilities.

The WRI said that historically, inventories of China’s power sector emissions have represented rough estimates that did not sufficiently address the variances in generation efficiency and coal quality amongst power plants, using methodologies that diverged from international accounting best practices.

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a partnership between WRI and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, released the tool which it said it hopes will bridge the existing data and reporting gaps.

“Coal is measured using elemental and proximate analyses to reflect its chemical composition and physical properties,” GGP said in the calculation tool’s guide’s executive summary.

“One of the results of elemental analysis, carbon content, can be used directly to calculate CO2 emissions factors for coal combustion. However, Chinese coal-fired power plants rarely conduct elemental analysis, preferring proximate analyses instead, and thus do not have carbon content data for the coal they burn.

“In order to bridge this data gap, the tool incorporates a statistical model, built on the theoretical relationship between carbon content and proximate analysis results, to indirectly calculate site-specific emissions factors.”

The tool focuses on the most important GHG emissions from coal-fired power plants - the CO2 emissions from coal combustion, desulphurization of flue gases, and consumption of purchased electricity or steam. GGP said this allows power provider and legislators to prioritize emissions reduction efforts.

WRI said it hopes the tool will offer Chinese industry and government a more effective way to manage emissions and is now exploring implementing similar methodologies and tools in other developing nations.

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