Fossil fuel power plants produce the majority of electricity in the European Union (EU), mainly through pulverized coal (PC) combustion. But more than half of operating coal plants are over 25 years old and are relatively inefficient. As fossil fuel power generation is the biggest contributor to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, any gains in conversion efficiency would lead to substantial CO2 savings.
By using the best available technologies, such as advanced supercritical plants and ultra-supercritical plants, it is possible to increase efficiency, by allowing higher steam conditions (temperature and pressure). Combined cycle plants using natural gas or biomass in pulverised coal power plants, and Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plants, which turn coal into gas, can potentially reduce emissions even further, especially with CO2 capture.