Archive for April, 2011

Bringing Advanced Coal Technologies to Arkansan Students, Educators and Workers

The first two days of our Clean Coal Mobile Classroom tour of Arkansas included visits to two college campuses. Our first stop on Wednesday took us to the campus of Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia.

Southern Arkansas University Chemistry Professor Tim Schroeder visits the mobile classroom to talk about CCS technologies.

Professors and teachers, college students, and even high school students came by to learn about the history and latest developments in advanced coal technology. Southern Arkansas University Chemistry Professor Tim Schroeder stopped by to talk about carbon capture and storage projects, and AP science students from Emerson High School came over to learn more about IGCC technologies.

AP science students from Emerson High School visit the Clean Coal Technology Mobile Classroom.

I had a chance to talk with Dr. David Rankin, President of Southern Arkansas University, about the importance of educating Arkansans about coal and the new Natural Resource Research Center the university just built:

Yesterday, we visited the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope (UACCH), where more than sixty future employees of the SWEPCO’s Turk power plant came through the classroom throughout the course of the day. We also welcomed Venita McCellon-Allen and Mike Young, President/COO and Regional Communications Director, respectively, of SWEPCO.

SWEPCO's Venita McCellon-Allen and Mike Young outside the mobile classroom's stop in Hope.

SWEPCO runs a scholarship program at UACCH, and many recent graduates of the program came by to check out the clean coal technology infographics on our iPads.

Recent graduates of SWEPCO's scholarship program at UACCH checking out infographics on our iPads.

Check back with us next week as the mobile classroom continues its tour through the Natural State.

Clean Coal Technology Mobile Classroom Kicks Off Arkansas Tour

Our Clean Coal Technology Mobile Classroom is back on the road, this time in Arkansas to show students, business owners and residents of the Natural State the history and future of advanced coal technologies. From the improvements that these technologies have made in decreasing the coal-based electricity industry’s environmental footprint to carbon capture and storage projects being developed, the mobile classroom will be visiting university campuses, trade organizations and town centers to showcase the latest innovations in coal-fueled power plants.

I spoke with Mark and Dennis, who will be accompanying the Clean Coal Technology Mobile Classroom throughout its tour of Arkansas, about their plants to educate folks about the benefits of coal and coal-based electricity:

SWEPCO is currently finishing construction of the John W. Turk, Jr. power plant in Southwest Arkansas, putting people and advanced technology to work to meet future energy needs of the state. The 600-megawatt plant will be one of the cleanest and most efficient coal-fueled plants in the United States.

I spoke with Kacee Kirschvink of SWEPCO, who talked about the jobs, economic growth and environmental benefits the Turk plant would provide to the region:

For more information on the Turk plant, visit our friends at the Arkansas Coalition for Affordable Reliable Electricity. To follow the mobile classroom’s activities in Arkansas, be sure to get the latest updates from this blog, our Facebook page and Twitter account.

New Government Report Predicts Coal Will Remain Dominant Electricity Fuel Long Into the Future

Alexandria, Va. –   Coal is likely to remain the dominant source of American electricity for decades to come, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration.  EIA’s American Energy Outlook 2011 predicts that, absent overly stringent new federal regulations, electricity generation from coal will increase by 25 percent from 2009 to 2035 and that coal will generate 43 percent of America’s electricity in 2035.

“This report underscores the important role that coal will play long into the future,” said Steve Miller, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.  “Coal will continue to be America’s fuel for decades to come because it will remain affordable, reliable and will be used in an increasingly clean manner.”

Earlier this year, ACCCE released a report showing that among energy used by American households, electricity has experienced relatively low price increases since 2001.  Coal currently provides nearly one-half of America’s electricity supply, and has contributed to the relative stability of consumer electricity prices.

An executive summary of the EIA report can be found here:

The Coal Wire: Launching Advanced Coal Technologies Here and Abroad

Advanced coal technologies have multiple benefits: they create jobs, provide opportunities in research and development, and allow coal-fueled power plants to have a smaller environmental footprint while still using one of our most abundant sources of energy.

A new coal-fueled power plant in West Virginia that’s about to go online will do all three of these things, adding nearly 100 jobs in the area. The Associated Press reports:

The first new coal-fired power plant to start up in West Virginia in 18 years will start burning coal this month. The nearly finished 695-megawatt Longview Power plant north of Morgantown is the first since the 80-megawatt Grant Town power plant went on line in 1993 …

Longview’s power will be inexpensive to produce compared with most other coal-fired plants for two reasons. One is that it’s more efficient than most: an anticipated 8,700 British thermal units per kilowatt-hour, or heat-units in per electricity-units out, according to Huguenard, compared with a national coal-fired fleet average of about 10,600. The next most efficient plant in the region has a heat rate of about 9,500, he said. The second reason Longview’s power will be inexpensive is that the plant’s coal will come from an adjacent Mepco mine, so its transport costs will be low compared with a plant that has to get its coal by rail, barge or truck.

That is why, when Longview first was proposed, one positive that was cited was that it would be a more efficient and environmentally friendly plant than average and would be called on to generate power before old, less efficient and environmentally friendly plants contributing to the eventual retirement of those plants …

The plant will employ 97 people. Huguenard said nearly all of those positions have been filled most with residents of Monongalia and Preston counties in West Virginia and Greene and Fayette counties in Pennsylvania.

This past weekend, a joint CCS technology project between the University of Wyoming and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy launched:

A University of Wyoming project to experiment with storing carbon dioxide underground gets going this weekend when a crew starts drilling a hole in the ground in Sweetwater County. The Carbon Management Institute at the university and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy are behind the nearly $17 million project …

Houston-based Baker Hughes will do the drilling. The test well will be drilled down to about 14,000 feet, a process that will take about three months. Preliminary data suggest the Rock Springs Uplift could store up to 26 billion tons of carbon dioxide over 50 years.

Deployment of advanced coal technology projects isn’t only a priority for Americans; it’s also a priority for leaders around the world. Earlier this month, energy ministers from several different countries gathered in the United Arab Emirates to commit their nations to development and deployment of carbon capture and storage projects:

The energy ministers were gathered in the second Clean Energy Ministerial. Australia and the UK chaired the Carbon Capture, Use and Storage Action Group, which forwarded several measures that were adopted by the other participants …

Among the measures adopted by the ministers were … identifying and advancing appropriate funding mechanisms to support the demonstration of large-scale CCS projects in developing economies [and] advancing the development of legal and regulatory frameworks for CCS.

Click here for more information about how carbon capture and storage technologies work and what the next steps are to commercially deploying these technologies.

Meet Robyn Hempfling of Dynamic Manufacturing

Robyn Hempfling doesn’t work for a coal company or an electric utility. She works for a company that makes high-tech circuit boards: Dynamic Manufacturing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Yet she knows that her company’s ability to keep people working and stay competitive depends on keeping electricity prices affordable. She knows that the success of her company relies on electricity generated by one of America’s most abundant resources – coal.

In this introductory video, Robyn explains how the cost of electricity not only affects her work life as a circuit board production supervisor, but her home life as well:

As Robyn says, her love for the outdoors and the environment is compatible with our need for affordable, reliable electricity through coal.

Coal’s affordability is also important when it comes to the competitiveness of the company she works for. In this video, Robyn points out that if electricity prices rise, the prices of Dynamic Manufacturing’s circuit boards could too. This could cause the Dynamic Manufacturing’s customers to look to its competitors – some that might be overseas – to get the products they need:

Here you can learn more about Robyn, her work at Dynamic Manufacturing and the importance of affordable electricity to manufacturing throughout the U.S.

We Can Manage CO2 Emissions Without Sacrificing Economic Security

Yesterday, we talked about the environmental and economic benefits that 40 years of advanced coal technology development have produced for America. The history of these technologies shows that environmental protection and economic growth can both be achieved.  While there’s more to be done, we’ve already seen impressive success when it comes to coal’s contributions.  Since 1970, we’ve reduced major air pollutants by more than 83 percent per unit of electricity generated, while also keeping coal-based electricity the most affordable source of energy for America’s working families and job-creating small businesses.

The coal-based electricity industry is also committed to managing environmental challenges of the future, while meeting our shared national economic and energy goals. As Congress, the Obama administration, and even our courts are considering how best to address climate change concerns as well as other energy and environmental issues, the American Coalition of Clean Coal Electricity supports adoption of federal CO2 management legislation so long as certain principles are appropriately addressed. A few of the most important principles are:

  • A Uniform Federal Program is Needed for Federal Legislation to Avoid a Patchwork of Conflicting Standards: Congress, not federal agencies or courts, should take the lead in adopting a national CO2 management program. Therefore, federal agencies, localities, individual states should not impose greenhouse gas regulations that would duplicate or conflict with federal legislation.
  • Federal Legislation Must Promote Energy Security and Reliability By Encouraging Utilization of Domestic Resources to Generate Electricity: Congress needs to value coal’s vital role in America’s energy future and recognize the importance of energy efficiency and conservation, as well as a diverse suite of other domestic energy sources to generate electricity including nuclear, natural gas and renewables. This will preserve the reliability of the electricity generation infrastructure and maintain America’s competitiveness in a global economy.
  • Federal Legislation Must Guarantee Aggressive Investments in Advanced Coal Technologies to Reduce CO2 Emissions: New and innovative technologies are making it viable to capture and store CO2 emissions, just as they enabled the power generation sector to meet a growing demand for electricity with dramatically fewer emissions of NOx, SO2 and other pollutants. Sufficient, stable and secure funding and other appropriate measures are necessary to bring these technologies into the marketplace, along with reasonable timeframes for their deployment.

With these principles in place, legislation can manage CO2 emissions while protecting the nation’s energy and economic security. Patchwork regional and federal regulations, and turning our back on our one of America’s most abundant sources of fuel, are the wrong way to proceed. Click here to read more about the principles that we stand by when it comes to legislation that addresses climate change concerns while still maintaining a balanced energy portfolio and a strong economy.

Three Things Your Congressman Needs to Know About Coal and Our Environment

With the EPA’s release of emissions data for 2009, the information below is now out of date. Updated emissions data can be found here.

At the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, we advocate investments in technology that will ensure we continue to improve the environmental performance of coal to generate electricity, while at the same time keeping electricity affordable for American families and businesses.

Congress is in recess over the next two weeks, and many of our elected officials will be back home in their districts. When they get back, several important pieces of energy legislation are still being considered on Capitol Hill. If you get to see your Congressman of Senator, we encourage you to tell them these three things about coal-based electricity and our environment:

  • The Coal-Based Electricity Industry has Invested $90 Billion in Advanced Technologies to Reduce Air Emissions Since 1990: The U.S. power industry has invested about $90 billion since 1990 to deploy clean coal technologies to reduce air emissions – while at the same time providing affordable, reliable electricity to meet growing energy needs. Early work to promote clean coal technologies focused on efforts to reduce traditional pollutant emissions like sulfur dioxide (SO2); nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are a precursor to urban smog; and particulate matter. And because technology is often evolutionary, the role and definition of what constitutes clean coal technology will change as we develop and deploy new technologies to respond to new and emerging environmental challenges.
  • The Coal-Based Electricity Industry has Reduced Emissions of Major Air Pollutants by 83 Percent Since 1970: Since 1970 – as population, economic growth and energy use have all increased significantly – major air pollutant emissions have been reduced by more than 83 percent. This includes a 56 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions, a 38 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions and a 93 percent reduction in particulate matter. Advanced coal technologies have been and continue to be installed on coal-fueled power plants, removing 90 to 99 percent of major air pollutants.

  • Government-Private Sector Cooperation is the Leading Driver of Many Environmental Improvements for Coal-Based Electricity: Continued innovations require investment from both private industry and the American government. These public/private partnerships have been an important driver for innovations that have allowed electricity providers to meet new environmental standards while holding down costs to the consumer. According to a 2009 ACCCE-commissioned study, American taxpayers see a quick and significant return on federal investments in advanced coal technologies, gaining $13 in benefits for every dollar the government invests.

The use of clean coal technologies has proven that we don’t have to choose between affordable, reliable electricity and a cleaner environment. Coal plants built today using state-of-the-art technology offer improved environmental performance both in terms of efficiency and emissions reductions. Going forward, a new generation of advanced clean coal technologies will allow us to continue to protect the environment and still enjoy access to affordable, reliable electricity from coal.

Southern Company’s Tom Fanning on the Promise of 21st Century Coal

Yesterday afternoon, Southern Company’s CEO Tom Fanning spoke to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at their CEO Leadership Series on the importance of building a national energy policy that can lead to job creation and economic growth. Fanning noted that while America’s energy strategy has been a “hodgepodge” of different programs and initiatives, a true national energy policy would focus on a balanced energy portfolio and development of new technologies:

“[T]here are two major elements that make up a sensible national energy policy. First, we need all the arrows in the quiver – a full portfolio of energy resources – nuclear, 21st Century coal, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency. Second, we need a national, robust research and development effort to create new energy technologies for our future.”

What does Fanning mean when he says “21st Century Coal”? It means a coal-based electricity industry that provides affordability and reliability with a smaller environmental footprint:

“A Congressional Research Service study shows the U.S. has 28% of the world’s coal resources – the largest amount of any country. Nearly half of all U.S. electricity generated comes from coal. It’s America’s most abundant energy resource. And it’s the one that we control.

“We must place a high priority on developing solutions that preserve this critical energy resource for the future. We must do it in a way that provides a sensible balance of reliability, economic consequence and environmental impact.

“Through our own technology innovation, we have created this notion of ‘21st Century Coal.’ Southern Company, with the help of the DOE and our other partners, has developed a way forward for coal – one that provides high reliability at low price and an environmental signature roughly equivalent to natural gas-fired generation.”

Fanning also shows how Southern Company is putting this to practice in Mississippi and Alabama:

“We’re using that technology at a plant in Kemper County, Mississippi. It will cost about $2.4 billion, and will create more than 1,000 jobs during construction and 260 permanent jobs when operational in 2014. Some 65 percent of the carbon dioxide will be captured and reused for enhanced oil recovery. It will have the environmental footprint equivalent to a natural gas plant – and without the price volatility. We’ve already licensed that same technology in China where a similar plant will begin operating next year. And we believe there’s the potential for more business to come.

“We also have some 20 research and development projects under way related to carbon capture and storage. And we operate the nation’s only center for studying carbon capture technology – the DOE’s National Carbon Capture Center located just south of Birmingham, Alabama. That’s another example of our longstanding, constructive relationship with the DOE, leveraging our investments together. By 2013, we will have invested more than $10 billion in environmental controls. As a result, we will have reduced emissions some 90% from those plants.”

President Obama’s administration, Republicans and Democrats all believe in keeping coal as part of our balanced energy portfolio and developing advanced coal technologies. Click here and find out where advanced coal technologies are being developed near where you live.