The U.S. could deliver both the fuel diversity and emissions reductions voters want by embracing innovation and encouraging the adoption of advanced coal technologies, the National Mining Association (NMA) said based on a new report conducted by Wood Mackenzie and national polling conducted by Morning Consult, both issued on January 23.
“If the U.S. wants to maintain the diversity of its dispatchable electricity mix and reduce its emissions, the government should be doing more to incentivize the use of advanced coal technologies,” said Hal Quinn, NMA president and CEO. “Incentives have already maximized the growth potential of renewables, but they have also distorted the market to disadvantage the reliable, baseload sources of power that have long been the foundation of our electric grid.”
Quinn added that the country is headed toward an overreliance on one energy source and just-in-time fuel delivery.
According to the NMA, coal and nuclear power, which currently provide 50% of the nation’s electricity, offer extended on-site fuel storage.
High efficiency, low emissions coal technologies exist today that could considerably reduce emissions, the NMA said.
According to the NMA, a one percentage point improvement in the efficiency of a standard coal plant results in a 2-3% reduction in CO2 emission. Using that calculation, improving the average efficiency rate of coal-fired power plants from 33% to 40% by using advanced high efficiency, low emissions technologies could cut U.S. coal-plant emissions by up to 21%, the NMA said.
Wood Mackenzie’s report for the NMA found that Japan, Western Europe and China are currently leading the world in the use of advanced coal technologies that reduce emissions, leaving significant opportunity for deployment in the U.S.
Morning Consult polling conducted January 7-9 of 2,059 voters, with a +/-2 margin of error, found across the board support for policies that would further the adoption of advanced coal technologies. Specifically, that 67% of voters support an all-of-the-above energy strategy that includes coal (16% oppose, and 17% did not answer); 81% believe maintaining America’s diverse energy mix – including coal – to preserve the affordability of electricity costs in the U.S. is important (6% do not believe it is important, 13% did not answer); 81% also believe maintaining America’s diverse energy mix, including coal, to preserve the reliability of the electricity in the U.S. is important (6% do not believe it is important, 13% did not answer); and 67% believe the U.S. should prioritize investment in high efficiency, low emissions coal plants (13% disagree, 21% did not answer).
While the report recognized the obstacles that face coal plants in the U.S., it also highlighted opportunities for high efficiency, low emissions technologies, including the instability of natural gas prices and limitations on the penetration of renewables, according to the NMA. The report also noted steps the government could take to encourage the development of high efficiency, low emissions technologies in the United States, including leveling the playing field and financial support.