Coal's Future Linked to CO2 Technology

Wayne Barber | Jun 21, 2012


Cheap natural gas from shale might dominate the business pages these days but much of America’s electricity is still supplied by coal and coal’s future is interlaced with commercial development of technology to use the fuel more cleanly.

This was the central theme of both a June 20 briefing designed to educate congressional staff on coal technology innovation as well as a new report calling for more investment in coal and carbon control technology.

The Coal Utilization Research Council (CURC) and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) made available copies of their updated June 2012 “Technology Roadmap” during the Washington, D.C. event.

“The central goal of the Roadmap is to reduce the cost to install the CO2 capture system as well as reduce the consumption of energy from the power plant that is needed to operate the CO2 capture system,” according to the document. The groups believe the current high cost of carbon capture and storage (CCS) can be reduced 30% to 40% through new technology.

The head of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Clean Energy Systems, Darren Mollot, told the June 20 gathering that the federal government remains eager to see commercial development of CCS technology. After a much-debated CO2 cap-and-trade plan failed to make it through Congress a couple of years ago, DOE and industry must look for other incentives to spur CCS development, Mollot said.

In the near-term, use of captured carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) might provide CCS with an early market niche, Mollot said. Enhanced oil recovery is certainly “the big hitter right now” in helping commercialize CCS, Mollot said.

A  Southern Co.(NYSE: SO) subsidiary’s integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) power plant in Mississippi; Summit Power Group’s IGCC project in Texas; SCS Energy’s Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) project IGCC in California all plan to employ CCS technology that would provide captured CO2 for enhanced oil recovery, according to the new “roadmap” document. The same goes for a carbon capture project at NRG Energy’s (NYSE: NRG) existing Parish coal plant in Texas.

But two other much-reported advanced power projects, Duke Energy’s (NYSE: DUK) Edwardsport IGCC and Tenaska’s Taylorville project, don’t currently include a carbon capture component, according to the report. Tenaska, incidentally, recently said it would shelve the coal gasification part of the Taylorville project, instead opting for regular natural gas as the power plant's fuel for at least the first few years of operation.

During a question-and-answer session with participants, the DOE’s Mollot acknowledged that technology breakthroughs are needed to drive down the cost of compressing and capturing CO2.

Despite increased use of natural gas for power generation, better CO2 control technology must still be developed in order to achieve policy goals that call for dramatically slashing greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2020, Mollot said.

The key is “getting the stuff deployed sooner rather than later,” Mollot said.

A parade of 19 different speakers then gave five-minute presentations on technology innovations that should lead to cleaner, more efficient ways to burn coal or deal with carbon dioxide.

They ranged from General Electric (NYSE: GE) to the Gasification Technologies Council to a newly-formed private alliance that wants to backfit an existing U.S. coal plant with oxy-combustion carbon controls.

CURC: Federal coal R&D pays off

In the new “roadmap” document, CURC and EPRI say that investing in coal technology is a wise investment. According to the document, federal research and development spending on coal has returned $13 to the taxpayer for every $1 spent.

The two organizations suggest an annual investment in coal technology of between $400m and $500m per year through 2025. Investment should then average another $190m per year through 2035. “Using the traditional public and private sector cost-sharing ratio, industry would contribute 20% of these costs and the federal government would contribute 80%,” according to the report.

“Despite its strong historic and current role as a primary energy resource in the United States, coal faces multiple challenges today,” the report said. These include case-by-case determinations of CO2 limitations for new coal plants to the array of various EPA standards to further decreases in emissions of SO2, NOx and mercury.

Today’s new coal plants emit 95% less SO2 and NOx and 90% less mercury compared to coal plants built in the 1970s, according to the report.

In addition, new coal power plants require at least seven years to design, permit and construct, the report said. This is occurring at a time of weak growth in U.S. electric demand.

An earlier Roadmap was published by CURC and EPRI in 2008. A copy of the prior roadmap is currently available on the CURC website, which is

Barber is chief of generation at Generation Hub, a unit of Energy Central

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CC Boondoggle

Global warming from manmade sources is based on subjective evaluation of skewed data by persons driven by agenda.  Carbon capture is concocted as the solution to a nonexistent problem.  Carbon capture isn’t worth spit, reference Dr. Bryson’s comment quoted in my earlier comment.  Why do people keep pushing it?


Since at this time, out of these Carbon Capture technologies none have emerged as clearly superior, the appellation of Best Available Control Technology [BACT], typically used in air pollution control regulations, should reflect a menu of choices. The Electric Utility contemplating new or retrofit technologies will incur additional costs [capital and operation – especially energy] that will increase cost of electricity.


What to do with captured CO2 represents another complication with added costs. Enhanced Oil Recovery [EOR] is site specific (i.e. location of suitable oil field) and CO2 generated from coal-fired power exceeds identifiable oil reserves by two orders-of-magnitude – justifying geological burial of capture CO2 as fall-back scenario. Specific geological conditions, exhibiting adequate permeability and porosity with a suitable cap rock [serving as containment] may not be available to coal plant and transport will be required. Transport of captured CO2 to a geologically favorable site will entail higher costs. Besides the cost of storing and transport, the public will undoubtedly raise concerns regards safety and environmental issues – prolonging public approval process and increasing the final plant cost and subsequent cost of generated electricity.


During the next five years, the evolution of Carbon Capture and Sequestration [CCS] – technically, economically and socio-politically – are the issues facing new and existing coal-fired power plants and the issues facing the American Public are the likely increased cost of electricity from these facilities.


Richard W. Goodwin West Palm Beach FL 6 24 12

Coal's Future Linked to CO2 Technology- BS/MS/PHD

Proliferated BS by environmentalist religionists who deny fact to pursue their agenda.  BS is of course BS.  MS is more of the same and PhD is piled higher and deeper, no truer accolade could be applied to the pontifications of the climate change devotees.



Green ‘drivel’

The godfather of global warming lowers the boom on climate change hysteria

By Lorrie Goldstein ,Toronto Sun


"He responds to attacks on his revised views by noting that, unlike many climate scientists who fear a loss of government funding if they admit error, as a freelance scientist, he’s never been afraid to revise his theories in the face of new evidence.  Indeed, that’s how science advances."  Note confirmation: "unlike many climate scientists who fear a loss of government funding if they admit error"


Here are some facts:


Nevertheless, some information is presented at the following links for those persons who indeed seek truth and not adherence to agenda:

From the wecnmag link, “The Faithful Heretic”,Dr. Bryson answered the following questions:

"Q: Could you rank the things that have the most significant impact and where would you put carbon dioxide on the list?

A: Well let me give you one fact first.  In the first 30 feet of the atmosphere, on the average, outward radiation from the Earth, which is what CO2 is supposed to affect, how much [of the reflected energy] is absorbed by water vapor?  In the first 30 feet, 80 percent, okay?

Q: Eighty percent of the heat radiated back from the surface is absorbed in the first 30 feet by water vapor…

A: And how much is absorbed by carbon dioxide?  Eight hundredths of one percent.  One one-thousandth as important as water vapor.  You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide."


It is way past time to recognize  these charlatans for what they are and REMOVE them from any position of authority and  respect for their fraudulent representations of science.

It truly makes no sense.

There seems to be an energy civil war going on. Everyone is trying to maneuver towards controlling our electricity generation and grabbing a bigger share of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars. Enough already! Back off! It seems to me that Romney should make this a major platform for his campaign. It would define energy policy differences and also educate the public about what's going on. The EPA has no business subjecting American's to this regulation of CO2 without independent scientific scrutiny. That is required in the Clean Air Act- why was this ignored? There are too many grave economic consequences to skip it.

Coal's Future Linked to CO2 Technology

The title of the article says it all. Why, indeed, should coal's future be linked to CO2 technology?

Alan E. Belcher.


Where is the logic in all of this?

EPA has a rule out that pretty much stops all new coal-fired power without CCS.  Because of this there will be no new coal plants built to replace older, less efficient plants that also are missing equipment to curtail some toxic emissions effectively.  They have another rule that will require existing plants to install additional equipment to curtail these toxic emissions--a rule that will shutdown a number of these older units without replacing them with newer plants which would have these controls. 

Much of the shortfall will be made up with gas turbine combined cycle but eventually three price of gas will rise, particularly if there is no competition from coal for low priced power.  The net effect will be a substantial increase in the price of electricity which will affect the cost of manufacturing and doing business in the US as well as decreasing demand for goods because people do not have the money with energy prices rising.  China, India and the other developing countries will pick up the manufacturing slack while building coal fired plants that do not have CCS and many of the emissions controls we have on our plants. 

Net result, no decrease in CO2 emissions and an increase in toxic emissions and particulate emissions while we devastate our economy.  And, no, wind and solar cannot replace coal because they are not reliable and not dispatchable, not to mention they are not, certainly at present, economical.

So, where is the logic in this policy?