Costs and Benefits of Installing Scrubbers at Coal-Fired Power Plants in India

Authors: Maureen Cropper, Sarath Guttikunda, Puja Jawahar, Kabir Malik, Ian Partridge


Coal-fired power plants, in addition to emitting greenhouse gases, are a major source of local pollution and health damages throughout the world. China, the United States, and other countries that rely on coal for electricity production regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants, primarily for health reasons. In the United States, the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments caused many power plants to switch to low-sulfur coal or to install flue-gas desulfurization units (FGDs or scrubbers). Subsequent tightening of SO2 regulations has caused more plants to scrub their emissions. In 2010, power plants with FGDs accounted for 60 percent of the electricity generated from coal in the United States (Schmalensee and Stavins 2013). By 2013, 95 percent of China’s coal-fired generating capacity had been fitted with FGDs (Ministry of Environmental Protection 2014).