Albert Lin, EmberClear CEO and chairman, said the company planned to begin a pre-FEED (front end engineering and design) study in January 2011. “After that, we should have enough information about the cost of construction that we can go seek a purchase power agreement,” he said.

Then, EmberClear must conduct a formal FEED study and secure a utility partner or a long-term owner/operator arrangement with another company.  Actual construction probably would not get under way until 2012. The plant would be in commercial operation around mid-decade.

Lin said his company chose Pennsylvania for its inaugural project “because of the incredible political support which allowed very fast permitting of this type of plant.  They have an alternative power portfolio standard combined with an alternative stimulus bill passed last year.  The state has great infrastructure, skilled workers and a good rail system to deliver feedstock.”

Another bonus: Pennsylvania is in the PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission system operator, and is close to the high-priced power markets which is the only way the economics work. It is also close to New York City. Pennsylvania also has good geology for CO2 sequestration.  “They also have ample water,” Lin said.  “Many surrounding states have coal but are challenged by access to water.”