Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Hearing - Prospects for Advanced Coal Technologies: Efficient Energy Production, Carbon Capture and Sequestration
Mr. Carol O. Bauer, Director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), a
national laboratory owned and operated by the Department of Energy. In his current
position as Director of NETL, he oversees the implementation of major science and
technology development programs to resolve the environmental, supply and reliability
constraints of producing and using fossil resources, including advanced coal-fueled
power generation, carbon sequestration, and environmental control for the existing fleet
of fossil steam plants.
Dr. Robert J. Finley, Director Energy and Earth Resources Center for Illinois State
Geological Survey with specialization in fossil energy resources. He is currently heading
a regional carbon sequestration partnership in the Illinois Basin aimed at addressing
concerns with geological carbon management.
Mr. Michael Rencheck, Senior Vice President for Engineering Projects and Field
Services at American Electric Power headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. He is
responsible for engineering, regional maintenance and shop service organizations,
projects and construction, and new generation development. He will discuss ongoing
projects at AEP and can talk to plant efficiencies and retrofitting facilities to capture
Mr. Stu Dalton, Director, Generation at the Electric Power Research Institute. His current
research activities cover a wide variety of generation options with special focus on
emerging generation, coal-based generation, emission controls and CO2 capture and
storage. He also helped to create the EPRI Coal Fleet for Tomorrow program.
Mr. Gardiner Hill, Director of Technology in Alternative Energy Technology,
responsible for BP group wide aspects of CO2 Capture and Storage technology
development, demonstration and deployment. He also is the BP manager responsible for
the BP/Ford/Princeton Carbon Mitigation Initiative at Princeton University as well as the
BP manager responsible for the BP/Harvard partnership on the Energy Technology
Innovation Project. He posses 20 years of technical and managerial experience which is
directly relevant to technology, business and project management.
WITNESSES DISCUSS ADVANCES, CHALLENGES IN CLEAN COAL TECHNOLOGY
WASHINGTON, May 15, 2007 – Today, the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment heard from a panel of expert witnesses about advances that have been made and challenges that remain in making coal a cleaner, more efficient source of energy. Coal is America’s most abundant domestic energy resource, and the development of these technologies could significantly reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
“We are currently consuming coal energy at a rapid pace,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC). “We need to focus on ways to make that consumption cleaner and more efficient. Clean coal and carbon capture and sequestration technologies offer such solutions and I hope that we can find ways to encourage the implementation of these technologies.
“The future of renewable energy promises an end to our dependence on fossil fuels like oil and coal,” Inglis continued. “But for today, we must work to make sure that our coal consumption is as emission-free and energy efficient as possible, bringing benefits to both industry and the environment.”
According to the Energy Information Administration, around 50 percent of electricity in the U.S. is generated from coal, and the electric power sector accounts for about 40 percent of our CO2 emissions. The Department of Energy (DOE) has a number of ongoing research and development programs designed to demonstrate advanced technologies that reduce carbon emissions from the burning of coal.
Carbon capture and sequestration technologies offer great promise and many industry leaders are investing in these technologies. This technology involves the capturing of carbon from coal, then storing it in geological formations. When CO2 is injected below 800 meters in a typical reservoir, the pressure induces it to behave like a relatively dense liquid that can more easily be stored.
Mr. Carol O. Bauer, Director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory, which is a national laboratory owned and operated by DOE, spoke ambitiously of the possibilities of clean coal technologies. He said that “The 2012 goal of the Coal Technology Program is to show that we can develop advanced technology to capture and store at least 90 percent of the potential CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants, with less than a 10 percent increase in the cost of electricity. This is an ambitious and significant goal, considering that commercially available technology to do this today will add from 30 to 70 percent to the cost of electricity.”
Unfortunately many unanswered questions still remain about the long term prospects of carbon capture. Dr. Robert J. Finley, Director of the Energy and Earth Resources Center for Illinois State Geological Survey, addressed some of these issues and highlighted the need for public-private partnerships to move these technologies forward. He said that “While we are advancing sequestration technology, we must also address issues of long-term liability for sequestration projects, legal access to subsurface pore space, and issues of who will bear the costs of sequestration and how those costs will be distributed. Some of these issues are beginning to be articulated, but it is unlikely that these issues, or the testing of advanced coal technologies combined with carbon sequestration, can be addressed without unprecedented public-private collaboration.”
Mr. Michael Rencheck, Senior Vice President for Engineering Projects and Field Services at American Electric Power, also spoke of the need for a coordinated public-private effort, saying, “Our nation must prepare, inspire, guide, and support our citizens and the very best and brightest of our engineers and scientists; private industry must step up and start to construct the first commercial plants; and our country must devote adequate financial and technological resources to this enormous challenge.”
Commercial applicability is made even more difficult by the fact that regional differences play a huge role in deciding which technologies are appropriate for a local power producer. Mr. Stu Dalton, Director of Generation at the Electric Power Research Institute, explained that “no single advanced coal generating technology has clear-cut economic advantages across the range of U.S. applications. The best strategy for meeting future electricity needs while addressing climate change concerns and economic impact lies in developing multiple technologies from which power producers can choose the option best suited to local conditions and preferences.”
Also testifying at today’s hearing on technical aspects of carbon capture was Mr. Gardiner Hill, Director of Technology in Alternative Energy Technology, responsible for BP group wide aspects of CO2 Capture and Storage technology development, demonstration and deployment.