Repowering Coal

More than 2,000 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity is operating in the world today, adding roughly 15 billion tons of CO₂ emissions per year—almost half of all carbon emissions. The coal fleet by itself exceeds the entire 2° carbon budget. 

This ambitious project will design a process to repower 2 terawatts of coal fleets via a fast, repeatable system resulting in carbon negative plants that are cheaper to operate than before.

TerraPraxis has assembled a global team of leading experts to design the technical, financial, regulatory, and engineering requirements to deliver a scalable solution — repowering the majority of the global coal fleet — within the necessary cost range and scale to enable the maximum carbon abatement impact, within the timeframe that is relevant to the climate challenge.

Project Goals

The overall goal of this work is to enable 2 TW of existing worldwide coal capacity to be repowered by 2050.

Beyond the opportunity to accelerate and de-risk global decarbonisation — whilst sustaining affordable clean energy provision on existing sites utilising existing transmission for communities and countries around the world — a further major benefit to this approach is the opportunity to reduce the overall scale of investment required to enable the clean energy transition. Repurposing the majority of existing coal plant sites and infrastructure, including transmission, and maintaining the workforce employed today, dramatically reduces the investments and effort otherwise required to site, plan, build, and connect new infrastructure.

In support of environmental justice and a just transition, these repurposed sites will sustain permanent high-quality jobs for the communities that are currently economically dependent on these plants. Public health benefits associated with eliminating coal burning, and the associated pollution from coal ash toxic waste, will be large and measurable. These clean energy plants will continue to sustain grid-scale reliable electricity generation to support regional and national economic well-being and prosperity. Additional benefits include the potential for new energy services such as hydrogen production, heat supply, and direct air capture. With more accurate design-based cost information it will be possible to calculate the saving for the global energy transition by implementing this approach. It will also be possible to quantify the reduction in land use requirements for renewables build and the reduction in the need for new transmission.

Repowering Coal is the largest carbon abatement programme to be designed worldwide.

TerraPraxis

The plan

Please watch the video below for an overview of the Repowering Coal project plan.

Coal plants are repowered with advanced heat sources. We can continue to generate power from these plants but we no longer have emissions. Same generation, none of the emissions. This decoupling of the energy from the emissions allows us to maintain and enhance a whole range of benefits without contributing to climate change.

Eric Ingersoll, co-founder of TerraPraxis, presenting the project at the CEM12

Eric Ingersoll, co-founder of TerraPraxis, presenting

Making the transition Achievable

The purpose of the repowering coal project is to prime and enable a global supply chain by articulating and accelerating the high value and achievable proposition for 2 TW of existing word-wide coal capacity to be repowered by 2050. The proposition must be affordable and economically justified to plant owners, their shareholders, and other investors. The proposition must articulate supply chain solutions which facilitate the pace and scale of implementation of 2 TW by 2050: an average rate of ~100 GWe per year or converting 250 coal-fired power stations (400 MWe average) each year. This must include a viable high level licensing pathway for rapid global deployment at scale to be designed into the approach.

Outputs from this project were showcased at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) in May 2021 and will also be presented at COP26 in November 2021. These events and the stakeholder engagement activities around them are major opportunities to communicate the transformational proposition to relevant parties.

Particularly exciting to see that [TerraPraxis] is developing not just this concept but an actual tool that global coal plant operators will be able to use to assess the viability for their own operations.

Rich Powell, Executive Director of ClearPath—after seeing Eric Ingersoll present the project at the CEM12

Rendering of coal plant retrofit by Bryden Wood

First, I would like to applaud Kirsty and Eric on their work around flexible nuclear applications, including heating, hydrogen, and repowering coal plants, with small modular reactors. This kind of ingenuity serves as a reminder: regulators must always be ready for whatever comes our way... we need to know and understand what's coming.

Rumina Velshi, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Project Partners