Recent Advances in Clean Coal Technology

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 01 Aug 2007 13:30:00 GMT

Recent advances in clean coal technology, including the prospects for deploying these technologies at a commercial scale in the near future.

  • Carl Bauer, director, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Energy Department
  • Jerry Hollinden, senior vice president, URS Corp., National Coal Council
  • Jeffrey Phillips, program manager for advanced coal generation, Electric Power Research Institute
  • Don Langley , vice president and chief technology officer, Babcock and Wilcox
  • Andrew Perlman, CEO, Great Point Energy
  • Frank Alix, CEO, Powerspan
  • Jim Rosborough, commercial director, Dow Chemical Co.
  • Bill Fehrman, president, PacifiCorp Energy

9:30 Bingaman There is consensus about global warming; what’s missing is a consensus on what to do about it. We need to try to have technologies that can be deployed. One can imagine it will take decades. I hope we can compress the timeframe for commercial deployment.

9:32 Bauer Given current technology and coal consumption, the US has about 250 years of coal use. DOE is developing zero-atmospheric-emissions technologies. The success of clean coal R&D will be judged by its commercial deployment.

9:38 Hollinden The Secretary of Energy requested a clean coal from the National Coal Council, which we produced June 7. Coal must continue its vital role in providing energy to the United States. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is a major challenge, but the coal industry has a history of meeting such challenges. Carbon capture and storage is critical. Deployment of coal gasification is critical. Recommendations: streamline the coal power plant approval process. Significantly increase CCS R&D. Determine the liability associated with CCS. Pursue a large-scale pulverized coal demonstration project. Integrate coal gasification. Efficiency improvements at current coal plants should be expedited.

9:43 Phillips We have two good news, three bad. The first good news is that any new coal plant has the ability to have very low NOx and SOx emissions and can operate at high efficiency. To get 1990 levels by 2030 more than efficiency gains will have to happen. CCS will significantly increase cost of producing electricity, by about 80%. Some means to induce CO2 capture without penalizing the owner of such a plant must be used. We have identified R&D pathways that would dramatically reduce the cost of CCS to only 10% by 2025. With current levels of funding we will not get there. It requires significant but not unprecedented increase of investment over the next twenty years. Even if we were able to drive CCS costs to zero, plant owners would be reluctant to deployment because of liability fears.

9:49 Bingaman Ultra-super-critical pulverized coal technology. We had a hearing with the people from MIT. I got the impression that they thought ultra-supercritical technology had been deployed in various parts of the world already. Why do we need to reinvent the wheel?

Hollinden There’s a lot of forms of “supercritical”. We’re talking about “advanced ultra-supercritical”. We’re talking about running at an efficiency of 48%; ultra-supercritical is just 42%.

Bingaman Am I correct we’re behind on ultra-supercritical deployment?

Hollinden From my own perspective, in the early days these were not very reliable, and coal is cheap here. So we went for cheap and reliable, instead of efficient. It’s still that way today.

Bingaman You refered to the dispatch order, when the CCS plant would be called on to generate electricity.

Phillips Right; the cheapest plant goes first. Particularly in our deregulated states.

Bingaman What if there were a change in policy based on emissions? Would that sufficiently incentivize these technologies?

Phillips I can’t say specificly, but obviously right now there isn’t an incentive.

9:55 Brasso (R-WY) Wyoming is the nation’s greatest source of coal. The more we can do to be energy independent the better it is for our nation and for my state. We’re in a unique position now.

10:00 Salazar My question is how we could use coal for plug-in hybrid vehicles. It seems to provide a great opportunity for our coal industry to produce electricity.

Bauer Plug-in hybrids is one way to reduce demand on fuels.

Hollinden It doesn’t help that the papers always talk about how dirty coal is.

Salazar It seems to me that while transportation is 2/3 of our energy you should look at plug-in hybrids.

Phillips We did a joint report with NRDC on plug-in hybrids. If you look at a future electric sector that is decarbonized with wind, solar, and CCS, you’re looking at an effectively carbon-free fuel.

12:00 A discussion of what the price for a ton of carbon should be; estimates range from $20-$35. The venture capitalist wants the market to be created. Dow figures in carbon costs in their planning.