Posts filed under The Coal Wire

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.

 

 

 


Democrats, Republicans Alike Concerned About EPA Regs

With the election season in full swing, it might seem that Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on anything.

But one thing Democrats and Republicans have united on is their concern about new and proposed EPA regulations like Utility MACT, which was finalized late last month. Back in November, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) warned that the EPA was rushing to promulgate regulations on power plants that could impact Nebraskans:

It’s not that the utilities, and hundreds of others nationwide, don’t want to comply with federal rules. They do. But they face major challenges in meeting deadlines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency…I’m fighting against EPA bureaucrats requiring that the upgrade be done so fast they’ll have little choice but to raise electricity rates through the roof for many Nebraskans.

Once the Utility MACT rule was finalized by the EPA, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), was frustrated that the rule could cause coal-fueled power plants in his state to shutter, potentially leading to higher electricity prices for his constituents:

It will drive up electricity rates for all consumers, and increase the cost of any products that depend on electricity – which is just about everything. More than sixty percent of Wisconsin’s electric power comes from coal-fired plants … The Utility MACT rule promulgated by the EPA today will put many coal-fired plants out of business.

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) pushed for Congress to act in a bipartisan fashion to prevent these EPA regulations from negatively impacting the economies of his and other states:

Every American should be concerned about their effect on energy prices, the reliability of our power supply, our coal mining industry and most importantly our families … I hope that Congress will address these regulations … to prevent the potential loss of a million jobs, increased utility rates, and more damage to our economy.

Whether working on Capitol Hill or campaigning back in their home districts and states, Democrats and Republicans alike have one message: it’s time to slow down these proposed EPA regulations on power plants.


The Coal Wire: New Innovations in Clean Energy Technology and Affordability

Engineers in the United States and around the world are pushing the envelope with huge innovations in clean coal technology. In addition to creating jobs, engineers are now achieving new benchmarks in research and development with the announcement from Southern Company that the world’s largest power plant CCS project is now fully operational:

Southern Company announced today that its 25-megawatt carbon capture and storage facility is operating and capturing carbon dioxide. Located at Plant Barry near Mobile, Ala., the CCS facility is the world’s largest for a coal-fired generating power plant. It will capture approximately 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually – or the equivalent of emissions from 25 MW – for permanent underground storage in a deep saline geologic formation.

Mitsubishi also announced that their contribution to this project will be the first time such technology been deployed in a coal power plant – and that their technology will be commercialized.  In addition to innovations that will help ensure America’s energy security while also reducing the environmental impact of power generation, clean coal technology is being developed to maintain coal as America’s most affordable source of energy. With this in mind, Alstom has predicted that the cost of carbon capture and storage will be competitive with renewable energy in less than four years:

Alstom SA, the world’s third-largest power-equipment maker, said the cost for carbon capture and storage will be competitive with renewable energy as a way of curbing climate-harming emissions by 2015… Governments around the world are seeking to cut emissions while securing energy supplies. Carbon capture technology is one way of preventing emissions blamed for climate change from being released into the atmosphere. More than half the world’s power will still be produced from fossil fuels in 2035, and CCS may account for as much as 20 percent of emissions reductions by 2050, Alstom said, citing International Energy Agency data.

Countries around the world recognize the value and security of using clean coal to generate power, and know the value of carbon capture and storage – which has created an innovation race. The United States is leading the pack, with both the Southern Plant mentioned above and the American Electric Power Mountaineer Plant in West Virginia, the first and second largest projects to date, respectively. But a team in Europe is working to create an inexpensive, innovative system as well:

Various experimental technologies have been developed for removing most or all of the CO2 from smokestack effluents, although no one system appears to have been universally accepted as of yet. One technology that shows some promise, and that could perhaps be used in conjunction with other systems, is called Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC). Norwegian research group SINTEF is now building a special new type of CLC system, for use in the DemoCLOCK pilot project, to be installed at Spain’s Elcogas Puertollano power plant.

You can learn more about the benefits and of clean coal, and join over 200,000 others who are dedicated to creating jobs and innovation by joining America’s Power Army and helping to spread the word: Clean coal technology will power America’s future.


The Coal Wire: Domestic and Global Developments in Carbon Capture and Storage

In its ongoing efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the coal-based electricity industry continues to work with government and academic partners to develop and deploy carbon capture technology and safe storage solutions.

Companies in Texas are working together now to develop CCS in the Lone Star State to be used in enhanced oil recovery:

Air Products has signed two agreements with Valero Energy Corporation and Denbury Onshore, LLC. The new alliances are expected to precipitate the firm’s carbon capture and sequestration project in Port Arthur, Texas. Thanks to these latest agreements, Air Products’ CO2 will be delivered via a pipeline owned by Denbury Green Pipeline. The pipeline stretches between Texas to Denbury Onshore and is expected to begin in late 2012. The sequestered carbon dioxide is to be put to use by Denbury Onshore in enhanced oil recovery.

President Obama’s administration has not only been supportive of investing in clean coal projects domestically, they are continually committed to working with other countries in developing and deploying technologies to keep coal as an important part of our energy portfolio. This is why the Obama administration recently agreed to move forward with its cooperative efforts with Poland on clean energy efforts including clean coal:

President Obama and Prime Minister Tusk welcomed new momentum in the two countries’ cooperation on energy and climate security, especially in view of Poland’s forthcoming European Union presidency.  They welcomed intensified cooperation between our governments and private sectors in the development of unconventional sources of energy, including shale gas, renewable energy sources like wind and biomass, clean coal technologies, and civil nuclear power capability in Poland.

As President Obama hosts German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a state visit tomorrow, it’s important to note the advancements that Merkel’s country is making in CCS technologies. German researchers just completed a successful carbon storage project in Ketzin, a town near Berlin:

Vattenfall has started the injection of carbon dioxide into the Ketzin reservoir. For a period of about one month, around 2,000 tonnes of CO2 will be transported and stored 200 kilometres from the coal-fired CO2 capture pilot plant at Schwarze Pumpe to Ketzin. The first successful injection from Schwarze Pumpe in the test storage site in Ketzin happened on May 4th. The R&D site in Ketzin is run by the German Research Centre for Geosciences, GFZ. Until then, only food-grade CO2 has been injected in Ketzin and this is the first time CO2 derived from the flue gases of a CCS plant has been injected.

The importance of keeping coal as part of our energy mix isn’t only a priority of the United States. Leaders in Australia recognize that advanced coal technologies can play a role in keeping coal as an important global source of energy while reducing its environmental impact:

The Otway CCS Project showed that the technology is viable. Almost 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide was pumped into underground reservoirs made up of sandstone rock located beneath a dairy farm … Australian operations head Russell Caplan says there will be a place for large scale renewables, but CCS is the best transitional approach … “You have massively growing energy demand. You’ve got billions of people coming on to the earth who require energy. Without doubt coal is going to continue to be a major source of that energy so we need to utilise in a more environmentally friendly way.”

To see where there might be an advanced coal technology project near you, click here.


The Coal Wire: Powering American Innovation with Clean Energy Technology

Every day, stakeholders across the energy spectrum are taking steps towards deploying carbon capture on a larger scale. Recent successes and studies consistently affirm the role of clean coal innovations in powering America’s growth with a cleaner, more stable, domestic energy source.

American Electric Power’s Mountaineer Plant, working with Alstom Power, recently concluded test operations of one of the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project thus far. The results were very successful, capturing as much as 90 percent of the CO2 from the test slipstream and permanently injecting it into the rock formations below. As the Carbon Capture Journal explains, the project is now moving into a second phase:

The formal testing program for the validation project has now been successfully completed. Analysis of the operating results have validated the predictions of Alstom’s process simulation models in terms of energy penalties, CO2 capture rates and ammonia losses, providing further confidence in the robustness of the design for a large-scale demonstration project planned for Mountaineer that would have the ability to capture up to 1.5 million metric tons per year of CO2.

CCS projects like AEP’s Mountaineer plant are on the cutting edge of technology, contributing to America’s energy security while creating good paying jobs. A new report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The University of Texas at Austin underscores the need for these projects:

According to the report, the potential for storage of carbon emissions through enhanced oil recovery is vast. Scientists believe the principal zones for combining EOR [Enhanced Oil Recovery] and CCS could accommodate 3,500 gigawatt-years-equivalent of CO2 from coal power plants… As a tool for enhanced oil recovery, CO2 injected underground could boost domestic oil production by as much as three million barrels a day by 2030, according to one estimate, an increase of more than 50 percent over current levels.

The report adds that the U.S. must “accelerate efforts to pursue carbon capture and storage… including regulatory changes,” because “such a boost to U.S. energy security would simultaneously help reduce the country’s carbon footprint.” Regulations and job creation were also a theme at the Eastern Coal Conference this year. Ross Eisenberg, environmental and energy counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, explained the problem with stalled energy projects:

If just a few of the projects instead moved forward, he said – perhaps because of new rules that could shorten the lengthy permitting process – it could bring billions of dollars of investment into the economy and create tens of thousands of jobs. If all of them were built, he said, the figure would be hundreds of billions of dollars – and hundreds of thousands of jobs. But that investment isn’t happening right now, and those jobs are not being created, according to Eisenberg. And the federal regulatory climate makes it unclear what – if anything – will be able to get a permit in even the near future.

Projects like the AEP Mountaineer plant and the SWEPCO Turk Plant in Southwest Arkansas are already creating American jobs through energy innovation. CO2 is being captured and stored in other projects around the country, and research and investment is advancing daily. Coal is one of America’s most abundant energy resource, and with projects like these, it will be a source of innovation and job creation well into the future.


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.


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.


The Coal Wire: American-Australian Partnership on Advanced Coal Technologies

President Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard are holding bilateral discussions today at the White House, talking about our two countries’ joint political and economic interests.

One of the economic interests that the American and Australian private sectors have been collaborating on are technologies that allow us to use coal, one of the world’s most affordable and reliable energy sources, with an increasingly smaller environmental footprint.

In Texas, Australia’s Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute is involved in a study to see how best to provide carbon capture technology for Tenaska’s Trailblazer coal plant. The Abilene Reporter-News reports:

To build support for the Nolan County coal-fired plant, Tenaska has touted economic benefits like 100 permanent jobs and 1,500 jobs at the peak of the plant’s five-year construction period … Work is under way on an engineering and design study for the carbon capture technology to be used in the plant. The study, being done by Irving-based Fluor, which Tenaska has said will provide the carbon capture technology used in the Trailblazer plant, could be completed by mid-year, Manroe said. She said the study is being funded through a grant from the Australia-based Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute. The grant, announced in October, is for $7.7 million, and Manroe said a Tenaska official had traveled to Australia to talk about Tenaska’s progress with the project.

In Illinois, an alliance of companies, including those from America and Australia, just announced their decision for Meredosia County to host the carbon storage facility for the FutureGen 2.0 project. The Jacksonville Journal-Courier [IL] reports:

It’s easy to see how Meredosia is on the map worldwide when looking at FutureGen 2.0, the only project in the world that has international participation with companies from as far as London, China and Australia. These companies make up the FutureGen Alliance, a non-profit group that first partnered with the Department of Energy in 2005 and now play the role in building a pipeline infrastructure from the Meredosia power plant to the storage facility, FutureGen Alliance spokesman Lawrence Pacheco said. There are 10 companies presently involved — Alpha Natural Resources; Anglo American Services Ltd. Of London; Caterpillar Inc. of Illinois; CONSOL Energy of Pennsylvania; Louisville Gas & Electric/Kentucky Utilities; Exelon Corporation; Peabody Energy Corp. of Missouri; Rio Tinto Energy America Services of Wyoming; and Xstrata Coal Pty Ltd. Of Australia. “The reason for this is when the facility is operating, we will learn lessons that can be replicated by other facilities around the world,” Pacheco said. “This project will bring a lot of international attention to Illinois as other industrial plants around the world look at the success of FutureGen.”

The Obama administration has already made significant investments in advanced coal technologies a domestic and international priority. Just a month and a half ago, President Obama recommitted to working with China on “wind power, smart grids and cleaner coal.” And Obama’s Secretary of Energy Steven Chu outlined that over ten major advanced coal technology projects received over $4 billion in government investments, with $7 billion in matching investments from the private sector.

For more information about how carbon capture and storage technologies work in places like Texas and Illinois, click here.