Climate Change Technology
Samuel W. Bodman
"My staff can tell you that I am something of an economic history buff. I often engage them in discussion about the grand forces that have combined to create the American economy, the success of which, of course, is unmatched in the history of the human race. And coal has been a key factor in our national economic
success," said Bodman.
"Coal literally fueled the Industrial Revolution. It has underpinned America's growth almost from our country's beginning. And I think it is safe to say that we owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who have labored in the coalfields and down in the mines.
One question that confronts us is what role should coal play in our future? Another is what steps must we take to ensure stable, affordable supplies of energy in future decades, when demand is expected to soar?
As we ponder those questions, we face a set of challenges that policymakers and business leaders did not have to confront in previous eras, challenges related to pollution, to public health, and to the potential for climate change. Burning coal produces emissions like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury, and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. In the development of our national energy policy, we must address the environmental challenges posed by the continued use of coal," Bodman stated.
Bodman said, "To our way of thinking, America's 250-year domestic supply of coal must be a key factor in our nation's future energy security."
Coal is the most abundant and economical source of fuel. It helped make America the world's foremost industrial power over the last two centuries, it will continue to be an important part of this national economy in the 21st century and beyond.
But the continued prominence of coal won't just happen. "It will happen because we are investing in the 21st century technologies that will allow us to address the challenges I mentioned a moment ago," stated Bodman.
The pollution that using coal entails must be addressed. Technology will help do that. We are confident that by harnessing the brain power found in our national labs, in private industry, and in academia, we can devise ways that will allow us to burn coal without pollution.
We have achieved reductions of over 65 percent in the case of nitrogen oxides, 80 percent for sulfur dioxide, and 90 percent for particulate matter. Those are impressive figures. But there is more work to do.
Progress is being made under the President's Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI). CCPI aims to develop and test technologies that will further improve power plant generation efficiencies. Early CCPI demonstrations have been designed to emphasize technologies applicable to existing power plants. Later demonstrations will include advanced turbines, membranes, fuel cells, gasification processes, hydrogen production, and other advanced energy system technologies.
We have already announced two rounds of project selections under CCPI. We have chosen 12 projects totaling more than $2 billion in combined federal and private funds to advance cleaner and more efficient power generation, and move into new areas such as the production of diesel fuel from coal.
The Clean Coal Power Initiative is just one part of the President's strategy to ensure the future viability of coal. We are looking for ways to make our power plants cleaner and more efficient in the years to come, we are also investigating ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal combustion.
We are spending upwards of $5 billion per year on a comprehensive climate change strategy.
One aspect of this strategy is to move forward with energy technologies that reduce future greenhouse gas emissions without having to take steps that would harm our economy. That is why we are moving ahead with hydrogen fuel cells, nuclear energy, and clean diesel technologies.
Experts at our Department's national laboratories are looking at ways to continue using fossil fuels like coal while slashing or even eliminating GHG emissions. Working closely with industry and with top research universities, they are investigating both how to capture CO2, and how to keep it out of the atmosphere.
One of the most exciting of these research projects is FutureGen. FutureGen is a $1 billion public-private initiative to design, build, and operate the first coal-fired, emissions-free power plant. When operational, FutureGen will be the world's cleanest, full-scale fossil fuel power plant. Using the latest technology, it will generate 275 megawatts of electricity, sequester greenhouse gases, and provide a new source of clean-burning hydrogen.
FutureGen will use a revolutionary technological process that starts with gasifying the coal. After cleaning up the synthetic gas and ridding it of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury, it will be combined with steam and run through a shift reactor, increasing the hydrogen content and creating a concentrated stream of CO2. Advanced new technologies will capture the CO2, leaving the hydrogen for a variety of uses, either to power turbines or fuel cells, or as a feedstock for the hydrogen economy.
Assuming this works, we will then be faced with the challenge of figuring out how to store the CO2 and keep it out of the atmosphere. So we are moving ahead researching ways to sequester this captured CO2 in deep underground geological formations.
Plans were announced to create a national network of public-private partnerships that would determine the most suitable technologies, regulations, and infrastructure needs for the storage and sequestration of captured greenhouse gases. These partnerships are set up in every region of the country in 2002.
DOE named seven partnerships of state agencies, universities, and private companies to form the core of this nationwide sequestration research network following a competitive evaluation in 2003. These partnerships have been hard at work in areas all around the country to identify some of the best opportunities for carbon sequestration demonstration projects. These teams have employed computer modeling and detailed geographic and economic analysis. They have developed action plans to address regulatory compliance, potential environmental impacts, and other risks.
The partnerships have identified sequestration opportunities across the United States that have the potential to store more than 600 billion metric tons of CO2, equivalent to more than 200 years of emissions from energy-related point sources in the United States.
Now is the time to move to the next level and get this work done, go from the lab into the field, and get down to testing what we think we know.
Artist's Rendering of Future Gen Plant
For that reason, it gives me tremendous pleasure to be able to announce $100 million in funding for seven regional projects selected to verify a variety of carbon sequestration technologies.
The seven projects we have selected are the same seven that did the initial round of work. They have demonstrated very substantial engineering and technical abilities throughout the first stage of this research, and have come up with some exciting and innovative processes to test. Over the next four years, they will field test and validate the carbon sequestration technologies best suited to their respective regions.
Each partnership will receive between $2 million and $4 million per year in DOE funding, with industry partners providing at least 20 percent of project costs. The total value of the seven projects exceeds $145 million over four years. These demonstration projects will be critical to the future of carbon sequestration, and therefore the continued use of coal.
They will also be critical to FutureGen. Indeed, by running these tests we will get a concrete, rather than a theoretical, idea of where we should site this groundbreaking power plant.
DOE's aim is to develop a list of five candidate sites for FutureGen by next spring, and then make a final siting decision within a year or two of that. I also want to mention one more development we are very excited about, and that is the prospect for passage of an energy bill this year.
The House of Representatives has passed its version of comprehensive energy legislation. The matter is now in the Senate. The House version contains several provisions designed to increase the use of coal, and it explicitly supports DOE's clean coal technology program.
We are encouraged by the action Congress is taking, not just for the sake of coal, but for the overall energy strategy. This is the year to get it done. We are optimistic about the proposals being debated on Capitol Hill, and are hopeful that the President will have a bill to sign by August.
Strengthening the energy future requires strong action from Congress. A strong energy future also will require something else, the continued use of coal, our nation's most abundant energy resource, to ensure we have enough electricity to power our growing economy.
Bodman said, "But we can't continue to use coal unless we find ways to utilize it in an environmentally responsible fashion. Each of us needs to remember that we are not just the stewards of our nation's energy future, we are stewards of our environmental future as well.
Given the promise of technology and scientific advancement, I am convinced those responsibilities are not mutually exclusive." We will continue investing in coal's future, because our ability to keep the lights on and our economy bright depends on coal.
The development of these innovative new technologies will help guarantee that coal continues to make a vital contribution to the future of our nation, as well as to economic development around the globe,at the same time we are working to safeguard the environment for future generations. cl
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