Archive for March, 2011

The Coal Wire: On the Cutting Edge of Clean Energy Technology

In an address on energy policy yesterday, President Obama emphasized that “our best opportunities to enhance our energy security can be found in our own backyard.” His administration has shown its commitment to the continued use of coal to provide electricity, and is working with the private sector to make coal-based electricity have as small of an environmental footprint as possible.

In a fact sheet released before the speech, the White House reaffirmed its support for investing in advanced coal technologies to remain “on the cutting edge of clean energy technology:”

Staying on the Cutting Edge through Clean Energy Research and Development: Through the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, we have invested in over 100 cutting-edge projects in areas ranging from smart grid technology, to carbon capture, to battery technology for electric vehicles.

ACCCE President and CEO Steve Miller agreed, and laid out facts about how domestic coal can play an important role in our energy security.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States is a net importer of both crude oil and natural gas, but a net exporter of coal. Other nations clearly see the benefits of enhanced coal use. The International Energy Agency projects that the global growth of coal for electricity generation will more than double the growth of any other fuel over the next decade.

Today, Matthew Wald of the New York Times featured two carbon capture and storage projects: American Electric Power’s Mountaineer Plant in West Virginia and the FutureGen project in Illinois. Wald first talks about progress being made by AEP:

[T]here are signs of progress. The first large-scale sequestration project in North America, on the banks of the Ohio River in New Haven, W.Va., is going to complete its mission soon, with an unexpected bit of good news. In one kind of rock, at least, carbon dioxide seems to slip into the small open spaces more easily than projected, meaning the job may be easier than thought …

“We’ve been very encouraged,” said Gary O. Spitznogle, the manager of carbon capture and sequestration engineering at American Electric Power, a company that produces electricity in 11 states, mostly by burning coal. In late 2009, it began capturing carbon dioxide from a portion of the flue gases at its Mountaineer coal plant in New Haven.

Wald also discusses FutureGen with its CEO Kenneth Humphreys:

The Meredosia project will use an entirely different method to separate the carbon dioxide. In February, the project sponsors said they had identified an area in Morgan County, Ill., for sequestration, in the Mount Simon Sandstone, a geologic structure that stretches under much of the Midwest. At the site in question, it is about 850 feet thick.

“The amount of pore space we’ll consume over 30 years would be on order of less than 1 percent to a few percent,” said Kenneth K. Humphreys, chief executive of the FutureGen Alliance, a consortium of companies that will build and operate the project.

Carbon is being captured in projects around the country, and investments and research are progressing every day. After reading the New York Times piece, learn more about advanced coal technologies like carbon capture and storage from Dan Connell of Consol Energy or see here how carbon dioxide emissions can be safely captured and sequestered underground.


ACCCE Statement on President’s Energy Address: “President Must Emphasize Coal’s Role in a Secure Energy Future”

Alexandria, VA – The following statement was released today by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) President and CEO Steve Miller after President Obama’s address on “A Secure Energy Future”:

“President Obama is right when he says, ‘our best opportunities to enhance our energy security can be found in our own backyard.’ According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States is a net importer of both crude oil and natural gas, but a net exporter of coal. Other nations clearly see the benefits of enhanced coal use. The International Energy Agency projects that the global growth of coal for electricity generation will more than double the growth of any other fuel over the next decade.

”Coal is a vital national security asset for the United States and our nation has more reserves of recoverable coal within its borders than any other country. As America’s most abundant domestically-produced energy resource, coal generates nearly half of our nation’s electricity. This abundance helps to keep electricity affordable and reliable for millions of American families and businesses.

“Last year, President Obama’s Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage acknowledged the important role coal plays in order to help satisfy our nation’s energy needs, to support economic growth, and to address the challenge of climate change.

“Additionally, coal will help provide the electricity to power a fleet of electric vehicles across the nation—a revolution in transportation that can dramatically reduce imports of foreign energy sources, create good jobs in the U,S., and improve the environment.

“We urge the president to keep these facts about coal’s strategic value squarely before the American people in the public debate about how to create a secure energy future for our country.”


Coal’s Critical Role in America’s Energy Security

Today, President Obama will be giving a speech at Georgetown University, outlining his proposal for increasing America’s energy security. Ahead of the speech, the White House released a fact sheet on their energy security policy, emphasizing clean coal technologies as well as carbon capture and storage projects as part of “innovating our way to a clean energy future.”

He and members of his administration have consistently touted the importance of coal as part of America’s strategic energy independence goals. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has often said that the “world will continue to rely on coal-fired electrical generation to meet energy demand.” And one week ago, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar emphasized that coal “is a critical component of America’s comprehensive energy portfolio as well as Wyoming’s economy.”

America’s abundant coal reserves – and our continued use of coal to generate electricity – also promote greater U.S. energy security. The reason is simple: The coal we rely upon is found right here at home, and we have a more than 200-year supply based upon today’s rate of usage.

Figures from the Energy Information Administration also show that coal consumption will increase both domestically and internationally to meet rising electricity demand during the next several decades, providing the U.S. and other countries with indigenous energy resources. In this video, I talk with Earl Watkins, CEO of Sunflower Electric Power Corporation in Kansas, about the importance of using domestic coal to provide baseload power:

A new generation of advanced technologies are deployed to further reduce emissions from coal-based power plants and will allow us to achieve a clean energy future without having to decrease our energy security. In this video, Mark Dunkerley of CONSOL Energy describes how he is working to implement PFBC technology, which is being used to reduce emissions from coal plants.

Alongside issues of energy security, coal also plays a critical role in America’s economic security. If you want to know more about how you can help protect jobs and the economy, visit AmericasPower.org/SaveJobs to tell your senators to work to pass legislation that could prevent negative economic impacts.


Three Numbers Your Congressman Needs to Know About Coal & Job Creation

Congress is back in session this week after a week-long recess where many members spent time in their home districts.

With several important pieces of energy legislation being considered on Capitol Hill, and with the economy still being the number one issue among Americans, we encourage you, as always, to inform them about coal’s role in a balanced American energy portfolio.

Here are three numbers you can send to your congressman’s or senator’s office about the jobs that rely on coal-based electricity:

  • 150,000: That’s the number of jobs that would be created by the deployment of advanced coal technologies across thirty different states, according to a study ACCCE commissioned last May. A coalition of key labor and energy industry groups, including the AFL-CIO, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and ACCCE, agreed in this study that the next generation of advanced clean coal technologies would create many high-skilled, high-wage American jobs.
  • 1.7 Million: The job-years that would be created through the construction of advanced coal technologies, according to the same study. These economic benefits would be widely distributed across sectors. The largest benefits from the building and implementation of these advanced coal technologies would be in the construction, manufacturing, and professional services sectors.
  • 6.8 Million: That’s the number of jobs that are supported by American coal production, transportation and consumption, directly and indirectly, according to a study conducted by researchers at Penn State University. The study found that coal-based electricity generation provides a significant stimulus to the U.S. economy by increasing output, income, and employment in all sectors directly and indirectly.

Want to know more about how you can help protect jobs and the economy? Visit AmericasPower.org/SaveJobs to tell your senators to work to prevent EPA regulations that could result in negative economic impacts.


The Coal Wire: American Progress in Advanced Coal Technologies

As we pointed out two weeks ago, America has been leading the way when it comes to fully developing advanced coal technology projects because of investments from the private and public sector. The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute reported that the United States “continues to lead the way with 39 of the total 77 large-scale projects” within CCS technologies.

Carbon capture and storage technologies make it possible to reduce emissions while ensuring a reliable supply of affordable electricity to meet America’s growing energy needs using America’s most abundant, domestically produced fuel. But that captured carbon can be used commercially to help other energy industries.

Balanced Energy For Texas recently wrote about the carbon capture and storage process that the Tenaska Trailblazer Energy Center will be using as well as how captured carbon can benefit the oil & gas industry:

Did you know that enhanced oil recovery using carbon captured by clean coal technology could result in $5.25 billion per year in economic growth? … Not only does clean coal technology provide affordable, reliable electricity, it will soon help Texas harness previously inaccessible oil resources … Captured CO2 is a valuable commodity. Naturally occurring CO2 imported from other states is currently being used throughout Texas for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). EOR allows oil companies to produce additional oil from existing reservoirs that cannot be recovered using conventional means. In a conventional oil reservoir, only 20 to 50 percent of the oil in the reservoir can be produced by drilling and flowing/pumping. This means that 50 to 80 percent of the oil is stranded underground and, without EOR, can never be used.

Advanced coal technologies are also progressing when it comes to reducing traditional pollutant emissions. Penn Energy’s Optimization Blog interviewed NeuCo Product Manger Rob James discussed his company’s partnership with the Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Power Initiative:

Given the ambitiousness of this project and the huge number of moving parts, I’m proud of how we were able to adapt to the changing set of constraints in a way that provided a lot of utility and met a key set of investigative goals.  For instance, we had to respond to changing economic drivers, such as the changing cost-benefit relationship between NOx and heat rate and changes in the value of NOx and SO2 credits, as well as a range of equipment and instrumentation constraints.

Advanced coal technologies also mean jobs. According to a study ACCCE commissioned last May, the deployment of advanced coal technologies would create or support more than 150,000 jobs nationally, and 1.7 million job-years of labor would be created through construction of those technologies. Click here to learn more about the history and benefits of advanced coal technologies.


Salazar Knows Coal is Critical to America’s Energy Portfolio

Yesterday afternoon, the Department of Interior announced that they will be leasing new tracts of land in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, containing an estimated 758 million tons of low sulfur coal. The lease is estimated to generate $13.4 to $21.3 billion in revenue for the state and federal government.

President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, was in Cheyenne for the announcement, touting the economic importance of coal to the region and the country:

Coal is a critical component of America’s comprehensive energy portfolio as well as Wyoming’s economy … As the number one coal producer from public lands, Wyoming provided nearly 40 percent of the domestic coal used to generate electricity last year and it’s important that we continue to encourage safe production of this important resource.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead (R) joined Salazar in Cheyenne and discussed the jobs that are created by the coal-based electricity industry:

The electricity our country needs to thrive has to come from somewhere and right now coal powers many of our cities and industries. This coal also keeps Wyoming men and women working.

Over two years ago, I talked with Gov. Mead’s predecessor, now-former Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D – Wyo.), about the need for the U.S. to maintain a balanced energy portfolio that includes coal:

To learn more about the role domestic coal plays when it comes to our energy portfolio, listen to Shane Evans of Arch Coal’s Thunder Basin mine in Wyoming talk about how coal-based electricity keeps America strong and how it provides good-paying jobs.

Want to know more about how you can help protect jobs and the economy? Visit AmericasPower.org/SaveJobs to sign a petition that will encourage our senators to prevent EPA regulations that could result in negative economic impacts.


Three Things Your Member of Congress Needs to Know About Coal and Energy Security

Congress is in recess this week, and many of our elected officials are home in their districts. With several important pieces of energy legislation being considered on Capitol Hill, it’s important to remind our elected leaders of the critical role coal plays in the U.S. economy.

If you get to see your Congressman or Senator this week, as always we encourage you to inform them about coal’s role in a balanced American energy portfolio. Here are three things you can tell him or her about how coal-based electricity can increase our energy security:

  • Coal Means Energy Security for Families: For working families, less money spent on electricity bills means more money for other necessities. In 2009, over 60 million American households with annual incomes below $50,000 spent 22 percent of their after-tax income on energy-related costs. One of the primary advantages of using coal is its low cost – and fuel price is a major component in the cost of electricity. Coal’s affordability has helped limit rising energy costs. And that has meant more money for child care, food and other family essentials.
  • Coal Means Energy Security for Job Creators: Providing businesses with a reliable supply of affordable electricity is key to getting our economy back on track so that we can maintain existing jobs and create millions of new ones. The fact is that 4 of the 5 states with the lowest retail electricity costs rely upon coal to generate 80 percent or more of their electricity. The affordability and relative stability of coal prices means American businesses can keep people employed and provide affordable services to consumers.

Both Congressional Republicans and Democrats agree that increasing America’s energy security and moving toward a clean energy future means that coal-based electricity and advanced coal technologies must play a key role. To learn more about how coal promotes energy independence while keeping costs low, click here.


The Coal Wire: Industry, Academia and Government Invest in Advanced Coal Technologies

At the Department of Energy, the National Energy Technology Laboratory is beginning research into new information technologies that would help commercialize carbon capture and storage projects faster. The Carbon Capture Journal reports that industry, government and academic institutions are working together to bring new, cost-effective CCS technologies to market:

The Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has begun research under the Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative (CCSI), partnering with other national laboratories, universities, and industry to develop computational modeling and simulation tools to accelerate commercialization of CCS technologiesWhile the ultimate goal of the CCSI is to deliver a set of tools that can simulate scale-up of a broad suite of new carbon capture technologies, from laboratory to commercial scale, the first 5 years of the project will focus on developing capabilities applicable to oxy-combustion and post-combustion capture by solid sorbents and advanced solvents … The CCSI’s industrial partners represent the power generation industry and power equipment manufacturers. The initial industrial partners are ADA Environmental Solutions, Alstom Power, Ameren, Babcock Power, Babcock & Wilcox, Chevron, EPRI, Eastman, Fluor, General Electric, Ramgen Power Systems, and Southern Company.

Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified at a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing yesterday, explaining why he continues to see government play a role in advanced coal technology investments:

Taxpayers see a quick and significant return on federal investments in advanced coal technologies, gaining $13 in benefits for every dollar the government invests. Energy companies are investing specifically in carbon captured by these technologies for enhanced petroleum recovery. From the Mississippi Business Journal:

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Dallas, Texas-based Denbury Resources Inc. has entered into a contract to purchase 70 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from Mississippi Power Company’s Kemper County Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle project … Mississippi Power will capture, clean, compress and deliver an estimated 115 million cubic feet per day of CO2 to Denbury’s Heidelberg Field. First deliveries are expected in 2014.

Advanced coal technologies also allow our federal government and our private sector work with other governments and companies abroad. The Clean Techies blog explains that U.S.-Chinese cooperation on carbon capture and storage projects is one of the top collaborations between the two countries in the clean energy technology sector:

[The] 21st Century Coal Program (CERC-ACTV) promotes a cleaner use of coal resources, such as large-scale carbon capture and storage projects. The program calls for collaboration between a number of companies in the United States, including General Electric, AES, and Peabody Energy, which will be working with a number of Chinese companies to develop an integrated gasification combined cycle power plants, methane capture, as well as a number of other technologies.

These technologies are making it possible to capture and safely store carbon dioxide – while ensuring a reliable supply of affordable electricity to meet America’s growing energy needs using America’s most abundant, domestically produced fuel. And according to a study ACCCE commissioned last May, the deployment of advanced coal technologies would create or support more than 150,000 jobs nationally. As Robert Baugh, Executive Director of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, said two years ago:

The employment impact of moving to a new generation of advanced coal technology is well documented and impressive. We know these are good jobs from a long track record of employment in the related construction, manufacturing, maintenance and operational aspects of power generating facilities

Click here for more information on how CCS technologies work.