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Power Plant Conversion: To Retrofit Or Rebuild

The coal-fired power plants owned by energy companies are converting from coal to natural gas, and it’s no secret they have been for some time now. This trend is developing behind the scenes and is worthy of discussion. The conversions or ‘retrofits’ seem to be more expensive than to replace the whole operation. Although there are several other factors to consider, the main argument implies that natural gas produces nearly 45% fewer carbon dioxide emissions than coal, and this is the agenda that the government seems to be pushing forward.

A 2010 study stated the following:

The electricity industry can theoretically switch to natural gas either by retrofitting existing coal-fired units to burn natural gas or by closing the coal plants and building new gas-fired plants. Aspen’s research uncovers no instances of coal plant retrofits to natural gas and, in fact, virtually all of the public references to conversion of coal to natural gas or repowering turn out instead to be replacements.

However, natural gas is not without problems and is not a perfect solution, as the so called experts would have you believe. “The radiative forcing of methane is 72 times that of carbon dioxide (averaged over 20 years) or 25 times that of carbon dioxide (averaged over 100 years).” Fracking has increased 35% since 2005.

Methane is extremely flammable and may form explosive mixtures with air. It is also an asphyxiant and may displace oxygen in an enclosed space. Methane is the main component of natural gas.

Other names for methane:

Marsh Gas
Natural Gas
Carbon tetrahydride
Hydrogen carbide

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