Impacts of the Minamata Convention for Mercury Emissions from Coal-fired Power Generation in Asia

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Amanda Giang1, Leah C Stokes1, David G Streets2, Elizabeth S Corbitt3 and Noelle E Selin1, (1)Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States, (2)Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL, United States, (3)Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, United States
We explore the potential implications of the recently signed United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury for emissions from coal-fired power generation in Asia, and the impacts of these emissions changes on deposition of mercury worldwide by 2050. We use qualitative interviews, document analysis, and engineering analysis to create plausible technology scenarios consistent with the Convention, taking into account both technological and political factors. We translate these scenarios into possible emissions inventories for 2050, based on IPCC development scenarios, and then use the GEOS-Chem global transport model to evaluate the effect of these different technology choices on mercury deposition over geographic regions and oceans. We find that China is most likely to address mercury control through co-benefits from technologies for SO2, NOx, and particulate matter (PM) capture that will be required to attain its existing air quality goals. In contrast, India is likely to focus on improvements to plant efficiency such as upgrading boilers, and coal washing. Compared to current technologies, we project that these changes will result in emissions decreases of approximately 140 and 190 Mg/yr for China and India respectively in 2050, under an A1B development scenario. With these emissions reductions, simulated average gross deposition over India and China are reduced by approximately 10 and 3 μg/m2/yr respectively, and the global average concentration of total gaseous mercury (TGM) is reduced by approximately 10% in the Northern hemisphere. Stricter, but technologically feasible, requirements for mercury control in both countries could lead to an additional 200 Mg/yr of emissions reductions. Modeled differences in concentration and deposition patterns between technology suites are due to differences in both the mercury removal efficiency of technologies and their resulting stack speciation.