Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ENERGY; Use Clean Coal

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ENERGY; Use Clean Coal

Article excerpt


Coal, an abundant resource in the United States, is unpopular due largely to its pollution and the role it plays in releasing greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

But what if coal could be produced in such a way that greenhouse gases were greatly reduced?

The United States has the largest proved coal reserves in the world, by far. The U.S. has more coal reserves than the next five nations combined.

Coal can be turned into a synthetic gas, reported the National Commission on Energy Policy. The gas then fuels a combustion turbine.

Then the exhaust heat is further employed to produce steam for further power generation and gasification. Nearly all the impurities would be collected before combustion. This same gasification process theoretically could be used for biomass.

Coal gasification also could be used to produce clean, low-carbon fuels for use in vehicles.

"Coal gasification technology is well developed and already being widely used in the global manufacture of chemicals," the commission reported.

Consistent reliability suitable for power generation has yet to be demonstrated. With natural gas prices skyrocketing, there is potential to convert these facilities into coal gasification facilities, the commission suggested.

The Tampa Electric example

The main drawbacks are that most current facilities are small-scale; there is a 250 megawatt coal gasification facility in Polk County. There will need to be some way to dispose of carbon emissions, such as in geologic reservoirs.

The commission suggests government support of demonstration projects. One idea would involve a partnership between the federal government, a state utility rate-setting body and an equity investor. The federal government would provide high-quality credit, the state regulators would assure revenue for the utility and the plant owner would provide equity, management and operational expertise.

The Polk County unit from Tampa Electric is among the nation's cleanest, most efficient and most economical power generation units, the utility reports on their Web site. …

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