Posts filed under Clean Coal Technology and Research

What They’re Saying: Reliability and Energy Prices

This week, we’ve seen a number of developments making energy news, and a major theme is emerging that’s shaping the conversation about the future of energy policy in the U.S.

The selection of a new chair for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, statements by energy industry experts and elected officials and an administration official telling Congress that new EPA regulations could raise electricity prices by as much as 80 percent have people talking about the reliability of our grid and energy costs.

It was announced yesterday that Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has been selected to chair the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  Her selection is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate, and her elevation to this position is good news for energy producers and consumers alike.

Senator Landrieu announced she will pursue an agenda that will be “inclusive, bipartisan and focused on the job creation that America needs and wants,.” She has a proven record of fighting back against EPA overreach in order to protect affordable reliable fossil fuels and works across the aisle, seeking commonsense solutions to use our most abundant resources, like coal, more efficiently and cleanly.

A leader like Senator Landrieu will be instrumental in shaping policies that keep energy prices affordable for our families and our businesses.

Unfortunately, Senator Landrieu’s commonsense approach isn’t the only thing shaping the future of energy policy.  The EPA and the Obama Administration are still pursuing new regulations that could cause an enormous price increase for energy consumers across the country.

Dr. Julio Friedmann, the deputy assistant secretary for clean coal at the Department of Energy, told members of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations yesterday that EPA’s plan to require Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology for all new coal plants could raise wholesale electricity costs by as much as 80 percent.

Dr. Friedmann’s statements confirm what we’ve long known to be true: CCS is still a developing technology.  It’s not yet a commercially viable option, and requiring new coal plants to install CCS will lead to higher energy prices for businesses and families.

As new regulations make it more costly to operate coal-fueled power plants, the continued retirement of these energy sources is likely to increase the probability of rising electricity prices and supply disruptions.

With the record low temperatures we experienced this January, we’ve seen an increased demand for energy.  What we learned last month is that without the power generated by coal, electric reliability is called into question. Additionally the price of other energy sources, like natural gas, can spike when people need it the most.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) highlighted the need to keep our energy mix diverse in response to this year’s extreme weather:

“Our reliance on installed, dispatchable power generation during extreme weather serves as a shining example of why diversity of baseload capacity is necessary to secure grid reliability. “

When we needed it the most, Americans turned to the power generated by coal to keep our lights on and our homes warm.  But with coal plants continuing to retire, what will happen when those units are no longer available?

In her comments on protecting the energy sources on which we rely, Sen. Murkowski expressed how tenuous our current policy direction is:

“What happens when that capacity is gone?  Maybe we won’t have cold periods like we’re seeing next year [and] we’ll be OK.  But what kind of policy is that?  A hope and a prayer, that’s not how we need to be operating here.”

We cannot afford this administration’s overreliance on a more narrow fuel source portfolio that excludes coal.

We can’t stand by as government agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) deals with the issue of reliability by allowing PJM to offer power prices that exceed the market cap of $1,000 per megawatt hour.

Actions like those undertaken by FERC set a dangerous precedent that places the burden of increased electricity costs on ratepayers, rather than prompting a critical examination of the energy and environmental policies coming from the White House.

Politically motivated agendas should not be undermining America’s access to affordable, reliable energy at the expense of family budgets and businesses’ bottom lines.

 

 

 


The Kemper Energy Facility – Groundbreaking Technology for Cleaner Energy

Over the past decade, clean coal technology has come a long way. When we say “clean coal technology,” we’re referring to the slate of more than 15 advanced tools aimed at reducing emissions, including scrubbers, integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) and carbon capture and storage (CCS). Together, these technologies have reduced overall emissions by more than 90%.

America is leading the way in developing these innovative technologies at institutions across the country, including the Ohio State Clean Coal Research Laboratory and the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research.

Southern Company’s Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi has been one of the most talked about clean energy projects not only here in the United States, but across the globe. Creative and forward-thinking engineering has allowed the plant to change the way we view coal-fired power. Southern Company is nearly finished constructing the 582-megawatt transport integrated gasification (TRIG) plant that will deploy technology to capture 65 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions from the plant. The groundbreaking technology will burn lignite coal that is mined on-site, and subsequently capture the carbon byproduct and store it underground. While the plant is an incredible example of American innovation, it has also taught us a few things about the challenges involved in building an advanced carbon capture facility.

For one, it has shown us that CCS is not commercially viable yet. The Kemper Plant has experienced significant cost overruns and delays in construction.

Second, it has shown us that only a specific set of circumstances allowed Kemper to be built. The plant is located in an area that is perfectly suited for the coal mine and power plant’s construction, and thus is not replicable just anywhere.

And third, the Kemper plant has demonstrated how far we have come in the development of clean coal technology, but also how far we have left to go. Southern Company’s own environmental director, Danny Herrin, told the EPA this week that “experiences gained from the Kemper County energy facility, as well as from many more fully integrated applications [of CCS] on full-scale power plants, are needed before the technology can be considered adequately demonstrated.”

By setting ourselves on the right path, we can support the continued development of CCS, along with dozens of other technologies designed to reduce emissions from power plants. To do so, we must pursue energy policy to ensure that the Kemper facility is the first, but not the last, power plant of its kind in the U.S.


The Year Ahead

None of us have the benefit of a crystal, ball but one thing is certain as we look ahead at 2014 – coal will continue to be a fundamental part of our energy future, ensuring America has the affordable, reliable, base-load energy needed to power our everyday lives and businesses.

In 2014, we must focus on how to move reasonable policies forward that continue to make America’s coal-based industries leaders in reducing emissions and innovating new ways to utilize one of our greatest energy resources. Putting political platitudes and legacy goals ahead of smart policies,will only threaten our economy, risk hundreds of thousands of jobs, and halt innovation.

Consider that through 2013, the coal-fueled electricity industry had invested $118 billion in a variety of clean coal technologies, reducing emissions by nearly 90% since 1970. And, between 2012 and 2016, the industry will invest another $35 billion on the U.S. coal fleet’s emissions controls.

These investments mean more than just cleaner coal-fueled power.  They represent an effort by the industry to develop new technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), which could mean an estimated $1 trillion in economic benefits to the U.S. over the next two decades.

But these benefits are in jeopardy.  Overreaching and unattainable regulations proposed by the EPA threaten to send innovative technologies like CCS, which are still in their infancy,  to countries like China which will reap the rewards of second and third generation development.

The conversation about the future of our energy policy has to focus on how we move forward, not backward.

We must have an energy policy that helps create jobs and new economic opportunities while ensuring that we have affordable and reliable power for our families and businesses.

We must develop sensible solutions that balance our need to reduce the environmental impact of energy generation with our need to protect American energy workers, consumers and manufacturers.  In short, we need an all-of-the-above energy policy.

This Wednesday, America’s Power will be presenting U.S. Energy Policy: The Road Ahead, hosted by Real Clear Politics.

Register here to be part of the discussion, and help us start a conversation that moves our energy policy forward and protects the people and communities that keep our lights on and our homes warm.

If you can’t make it to the event in person, be a part of the discussion on Twitter using #RCPEnergy.

 


Fact: Nearly 90 Percent Cleaner

Today we’re starting a new initiative to help people learn more about how crucial coal is to our energy future.  Each week we’re going to release a new coal fact on Facebook that illustrates how coal plays a critical role in providing reliable, affordable energy, powers American industry and supports our communities.

Our first fact is about the progress we’ve made over the past few decades in reducing emissions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s our hope that more people will come to understand just how much we need coal here in the U.S. and stand with us to oppose things like the EPA trying to regulate our industry away.  You can take action today by signing our letter to the EPA opposing their proposed new source performance standards.


New EPA Rules Will Kill Clean Coal

This morning the Wall Street Journal ran my op-ed “New EPA Regulations Will Kill Clean Coal” which can be viewed in full by logging into their site.

Here at ACCCE, we work directly with members of the coal-based electricity industry. This gives us a firsthand look at how the new EPA regulations are putting Americans companies out of business and the American people out of work.

The fact is that the EPA’s announced rules aren’t realistic for our industry.

The new rules will require the use of carbon capture and storage technology on a massive scale and while CCS holds great promise for the future of our industry, this technology is still in its infancy.

The coal-based electricity sector is working with the government to further develop CCS technology and demonstrate that it can operate safely and reliably at large plants, but we’re not there yet.

The United States currently has only one first-generation CCS project. This first-generation technology is promising but still very expensive to operate, so a requirement that every new coal-fueled plant must deploy this technology amounts to a de facto ban on the construction of new coal plants.

An end to new coal plants would by extension mean an end to the development of CCS, among the most innovative clean coal technologies ever developed. If the United States quits on coal and clean coal technology, countries like China stand to benefit.

As an industry, our record on developing new cleaner technologies speaks for itself. There are at least 15 different clean coal technologies being used today by our coal fleet and those advancements have helped reduce emissions by nearly 90% since 1970.

This Administration is saying they support clean coal technology, but then pushing policies that would undermine its development. If the Obama administration is truly committed to clean energy, clean coal technology and CCS, then the EPA has to give the industry time to develop this technology and make it commercially viable.

 


Dale Jr. Gets Clean Coal

What do Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Fulton, Arkansas have in common?

They both understand the importance of clean coal technology and rely on it every day. That is why Dale Jr. visited the John W. Turk Plant, where two-thirds of the employees are local residents. The Turk Plant is the first plant to use ultra-supercritical technology in the United States and is the cleanest coal-fueled power plant in the country.

The Turk Plant is an excellent example of how coal can help a community thrive economically and reduce its emissions.

Dale Jr. got a first-hand look into the daily operations of the plant where he saw them use technology to make their plant better, just like he uses technology to make his racing team perform better.

As a business owner and an energy consumer, Dale Jr. recognizes the importance of affordable and reliable energy from clean coal.

Learn more about Dale’s visit to the Turk plant, and check out our videos from his trip here.


Department of Energy Awards Texas Coal Project $167 million

Originally posted on Climatewire

A proposed project to capture 90 percent of carbon dioxide from the W.A. Parish power planet near Houston, Texas was awarded $167 million yesterday by the Department of Energy, says ClimateWire.

This project is set to be the first of its kind in commercial use of carbon capture and sequestration CCS technology on a coal generator. Amid a current environment of diminished stimulus funding and lackluster carbon incentives, this project will succeed projects from Mississippi Power’s Kemper project and SaskPower’s Boundary Dam project in Canada that are currently under construction. 

“The proposed project would help [the department] meet its congressionally mandated mission to support advanced clean-coal technology projects,” states the decision.

The Texas project is planning to have the capture unit of the existing plant operational in 2015. The estimated CO2 captured is said to equate 1.6 million tons per year from the plant’s exhaust, which would otherwise have been emitted to the atmosphere. Older plants will be the source of most coal emissions in coming decades. 


Coal Fuels More than Electricity in the Midwest

The Midwest has seen a significant uptick in coal output, and as the Wall Street Journal reported today, its recent “comeback” has powered new jobs and economic activity in the region.

The article attributes coal’s surge in this region to clean coal technologies that have enabled mining companies to access more broadly the Midwest’s vast deposits of coal. As Vic Svec, of Peabody Energy, noted in the article, “The widespread deployment of scrubbers [installed on coal-fueled power plants] removes the major barrier—sulfur dioxide—to Illinois Basin coal use.”

As many in the article go on to say, the ramped up production of coal from the Illinois Basin is not only giving communities access to affordable, reliable American-made energy, but it’s also creating jobs and spurring economic growth.

David A. Meyer, chairman of the county board of Washington County, IL, said the project has given the area a much-needed boost and has provided “permanent good-paying jobs, some of them very high-tech.” Indeed, one coal mine in a farming community southeast of St. Louis added 580 jobs and helped fund a high school and court building. In McLeansboro, 70 miles to the east, a mine under construction has brought jobs and several new businesses to the area.