Since 1985, the National Coal Council has provided the Secretary of Energy with advice and recommendations on how to use coal in an environmentally sound manner while also decreasing our dependence on more expensive and less secure sources of energy.
The National Coal Council recently finalized their latest report summarizing the challenges and opportunities that we face when it comes to expedited deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies. Their key findings (.pdf) include:
Coal will continue to be the cornerstone of the energy portfolio of both the United States and the world because it is abundant, affordable, widely distributed, secure and versatile.
Clean coal technologies have successfully addressed [prior] emission challenges for coal-based generation, and through continued advancements will be able to address the development challenges for CCS and other low-carbon coal technologies.
Yesterday, we talked about the level of success that clean coal technologies have had in reducing regulated emissions. Similar success for carbon capture and storage projects will have to come with sufficient partnerships between both the private and public sector. Many of the National Coal Council’s findings show that government investment in these technologies, as well as regulatory and legal certainty for development of these projects, are critical parts of future commercial deployment of CCS:
Federal government policy support is critical to advancing the development of CCS technology. Without continued government support, it is highly unlikely that a sufficient number of large-scale CCS demonstrations will occur in the near-term …
If CCS technology is to be commercially available for coal-based generation by 2020, then the success rate of active projects must improve and the quantity and diversity of large-scale storage demonstration projects must be expedited and accelerated in the near-term. The DOE is in the best position to lead this effort …
Since CCS is likely to play an increasingly important role in environmental regulatory decisions for the foreseeable future, regulatory and legal policy will need to be adapted to facilitate the timely and practical development and deployment of that technology …
The DOE must continue to play a leading role in supporting policies that regulate CCS in a manner that protects human health and the environment, while enabling worthwhile projects to be financed, developed and operated without unnecessary legal impediments.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu has often touted the role government should play in developing clean coal technologies, and the National Coal Council’s findings affirm that investments in CCS technologies can benefit taxpayers. In a 2009 ACCCE-commissioned study, American taxpayers see a quick and significant return on federal investments in clean coal technologies, gaining $13 in benefits for every dollar the government invests. The primary benefit: reduced electricity rates resulting from lower compliance costs as coal-generated plants deploy new technologies to meet air quality standards.
You can find the full 200-page report from the National Coal Council here (.pdf).