COAL POWER Direct [October 8, 2009]

“There Is a New Sheriff in Town”—Get Ready for a More Aggressive OSHA

The Obama administration’s “new OSHA” has a simple message for U.S. industry. This message has been delivered loudly and clearly by both Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Acting Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Jordan Barab. Their message: “There is a new sheriff in town.” And we all know what sheriffs do. They aggressively enforce the law. That is exactly what the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration intends to do.

Condenser Tube Life-Cycle Economics

The decision to retube a heat exchanger or condenser begins with understanding why tubes are failing. Only when the “why” is understood can the economic replacement tube material be selected. We explore the most common tube material failure mechanisms and then illustrate how to perform a proper life-cycle analysis for that new set of condenser tubes your plant so desperately needs. In sum, there are many reasons to consider getting the copper out of your condenser.

Court Revives CO2 “Nuisance” Suit Against Utilities

In another major legal victory for states pressing for controls on industry emissions of carbon dioxide, a federal appeals court has reversed a lower court decision and ruled that eight states and the city of New York City could bring “nuisance” suits against five coal-burning utilities to curb greenhouse gas discharges that the states claim are causing damage to their natural resources.

Cracks in the Ivory Tower

Environmental researchers from Harvard and Tsinghua Universities released a new study, published as the cover story in the September 11 issue of Science, suggesting that China could meet its entire future electricity needs through wind power alone. Studies that focus on a single technology as the silver bullet that solves all of our energy problems often ignore the practical side of their solutions, leaving mistaken impressions in the public mind.

EPA Finalizes Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rules

In a major climate change rulemaking, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued final regulations that will require most large emitters of greenhouse gases in the U.S. to report their emissions beginning in 2010.

EPA to Clamp Down on Coal Plant Wastewater

The Environmental Protection Agency announced it plans to “revise” existing, decades-old guidelines for water discharges of toxic metals from fossil fuel-fired power plants, saying a recently concluded EPA study focused mostly on wastewater discharges from coal-fired power plants uncovered elevated levels of toxic pollutants.

Paving the Way for More Renewable Energy

President Obama has set an ambitious goal of doubling renewable energy production in the U.S. within three years, which would spur the development of a clean-tech economy and address the challenge of climate change. There is just one problem: even if we achieve the president’s goal of producing more renewable energy, we have no way of actually delivering that energy to where it’s needed.

Texas Wind Boom Cutting into Fossil Generator Profits

Can wind turbines actually reduce the amount of fossil fuels consumed? A Wall Street Journal analysis concludes that ERCOT utilities will begin to feel the squeeze in their profits this year and to expect the amount of fossil fuels used to generate electricity to be reduced.

Zonal Combustion-Tuning Systems Improve Coal-Fired Boiler Performance

Coal-fired power plants that fire low-cost coals or that are equipped with combustion modifications for NOx controls are challenged with maintaining good combustion conditions while maximizing generation and minimizing emissions. In many cases, significant unit derates, availability losses, and an increase in unburned carbon levels can be attributed to poor combustion conditions that occur as a result of poorly controlled local air/fuel distribution within the boiler furnace. Fortunately, a new generation of combustion optimization technologies is available that uses burner air and fuel controls and spatially distributed combustion monitors to detect and correct local furnace air/fuel distribution imbalances.