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.