Members of the National Coal Council (NCC) have approved a new report that details a significant number of federal and state policies and initiatives that could support the deployment of advanced technologies for coal power generation. The report, completed at the request of the U.S. secretary of energy, emphasized the urgency of accelerating deployment of technologies that enhance efficiency and lower CO2 emissions to help states and utilities meet midcentury carbon-reduction goals.

The report, COAL POWER: Smart Policies in Support of Cleaner, Stronger Energy, noted that existing energy policies are insufficient to incentivize deployment of advanced coal generation technologies at scale and in a timely manner. There is an urgent need to undertake initiatives that lower the cost of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) and high efficiency-low emissions (HELE) coal generation technologies by doing large-scale demonstrations and commercial projects; eliminate deployment bottlenecks created by a lack of CO2 pipelines and storage sites; and foster commercialization of next-generation, near-zero emissions coal power plants that can compete on cost and environmental performance with other low-carbon energy resources.

The report was co-chaired by Kipp Coddington with the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources and John Harju with the University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC).

“The nation’s coal fleet plays an essential and indispensable role in providing reliable and resilient electric power,” Coddington said. “This report clearly defines the need for advanced coal generation technologies to help the U.S. achieve its energy, economic and environmental objectives.”

“A growing number of states and utilities have established low-carbon or carbon reduction requirements to be met by midcentury or sooner,” Harju said.

To meet these midcentury goals, three critical objectives will need to be met over the next 20 years, the report said. By 2030, a critical mass of existing coal power plants needs to be retrofitted with carbon capture and efficiency enhancing technologies. By 2035, a growing network of CO2 storage sites and pipelines needs to be established, which is approximately five times larger than what exists today. By 2040, a variety of new coal plant technologies will need to be commercially available, cost competitive and have a near-zero emissions profile.

These objectives are achievable if the U.S. is willing to pursue an aggressive agenda that acknowledges the urgency of the need and the economic-environmental implications of not meeting these goals, both in the U.S. and globally, according to the report. The report identifies initiatives that are most urgently needed to achieve these milestones.

“The U.S. must maintain a readiness, both in technology and human resources, to utilize the most abundant resources within the nation’s control to supply critical energy needs,” NCC Chair Danny Gray said.

Other nations have made strides in deploying cost-effective low-carbon technologies. To date, there has been very limited deployment of these technologies in the U.S.

“The U.S. has the opportunity and the capability to lead in developing technology required to enable use of coal with improved efficiency and lower emissions,” NCC CEO Janet Gellici said.

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