by fred palmer
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice appeared on CNBC in December expressing the view that President Joe Biden will not eliminate the use of coal in the United States because he can’t. In the governor’s words, “to think that today this nation can do without coal and natural gas, would be blowing our legs off.”
Coal plants have closed, and more are scheduled to close between now and 2024. At the same time, potential large price increases and/or scarcity in U.S. natural gas pricing due to reduced drilling, increased domestic and foreign demand and/or severe heat or cold, or both, says the existing coal fleet needs to be preserved to meet electricity demand 24/7 for the well-being of us all. At today’s natural gas prices and with drilling using borrowed money a thing of the past, natural gas supply continues to decrease while exports increase. Are we not a frigid winter or hot summer away from double-digit natural gas prices and major reliability problems, like 15 years ago?
We use and rely on electric power every minute of every day and turning the country into California will lead to widespread impact in ways that are truly dangerous to human health and welfare. Keeping the coal plants running is the only way to ensure and protect the pro-people value of universal electrification. Improving the efficiency and environmental footprint of the existing coal fleet is a path to ensure that coal plants remain running.
I have had the good fortune of being introduced to a new company with impressive, transformational technology. The company, Combustion & Emissions Technologies LLC (CET), has developed a catalyst, CETALYST, that when deployed provides a Heat Rate Improvement and CO2, NOX, SOX emissions-profile decrease, thus extending the useful life of our nation’s coal fleet.
The CET system will prolong the useful life of any coal plant:
Negligible capital investment;
Pays dividends upon deployment, making CO2 reduction profitable while using coal;
Increasing efficiency through Heat Rate Improvement 2%-4% for bituminous coal;
Reducing the coal plant carbon footprint 2%-4% in compliance with the new EPA ACE rule;
Also reducing coal plant emissions of NOX, SOX, and mercury;
Fly ash beneficiation, turns ash liability into an asset and allows rare earth metal recovery while eliminating ash disposal for an 8% fuel cost savings;
Initial, proof of concept testing was conducted at the University of North Dakota Institute for Energy Studies;
Validation testing was conducted at the UND Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC); and
CET is currently seeking several facilities to test their catalyst in the field and is offering a significant incentive to prospective partners.
This technology addresses the complex issues of emissions, viability and reliability of our coal plants while enhancing electric reliability. On the imperative of electric reliability, it has to be the very first value for our electric system as recognized by the U.S. Government.
It was the Obama administration that put the electric reliability case this way in a study by the Department of Energy to Congress in January 2017, one of the last acts of the Obama/Biden administration.
“Electricity is essential for supporting and sustaining nearly every sector of the modern economy ranging from industrial output and services to national security… A secure reliable electric power sector is necessary for economic growth, public safety, societal well-being and proper functioning of critical infrastructure, national security defense, lifeline networks transportation communications, water and sewer. Without access to reliable electricity, much of the economy and all electricity-enabled critical infrastructure are at risk. These include our national security and homeland defense network, which depend on electricity to carry out their missions to ensure the safety and prosperity of the American people.” (DOE Valuation of Energy Security for the United States – report to Congress, January 2017, p. 97).
It is submitted here that President Biden will maintain these principles and coal will continue as an anchor source of electric supply in key parts of the country. To help him in maintaining available and reliable electric power, the efficiency and emissions profile of all coal plants needs to be improved where they can be. With CET technology ready to go, at a profit, deploying it widespread will help out the country, coal and Biden have a successful next four years and into the future as well.
More specifics on the technology can be found at www.cetalyst.com.
Fred Palmer is a senior fellow for CO2 policy at the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. The group disseminates factual reports and sound commentary on new developments in the worldwide scientific quest to determine the climatic and biological consequences of the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content. He is also the head of Saving US Coal and could use your support.