New capacity also is needed to meet growing electricity demand. According to the Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook 2007, between now and 2030, 258 gigawatts (GW) of new electric generating capacity must be built to meet this demand. During this time, electricity demand is expected to increase by approximately 41 percent, as is coal-based generation, which translates into about 156 GW of new coal-based capacity (the remainder consisting of natural gas, renewables and nuclear energy). These plants will use a suite of technologies ranging from advanced pulverized coal to IGCC. Not only will the emissions of SO2, NOx, mercury and particulate matter be lower, the increased efficiencies of the new plants will facilitate the capture of CO2 emissions.
Because a variety of coals are available in the U.S., different technologies work best with different types of coal. Thus, a suite of technologies will be necessary to meet the U.S.'s future economic growth and national security needs. Among the technology improvements in coal that are the most important to pursue are USC/PC, IGCC and CCS. Tax credits, loan guarantees and other measures that provide incentives for the development of these technologies, such as more rapid amortization of pollution control equipment, are also important.
Critical to the development of low CO2-emitting coal-based plants is the development and commercialization of CCS technologies that allow for cost-effective capture of CO2 emissions. In addition, reliable and cost-effective methods of permanently storing carbon must be demonstrated at a scale necessary to manage millions of tons of power plant CO2 emissions.
It is essential that the federal government support research and development efforts that will allow coal to be fully utilized in power plants well into the future. This will require a sustained technology development program that will cost billions of dollars. Moreover, given the importance of coal-based electricity to power generation and the nation's economy, the ability to produce it with near-zero greenhouse gas emissions is of crucial national importance in the long term.
- Encourage commercialization of clean coal and CCS technologies.
- Site and commercialize FutureGen, the world's first near-zero emissions coal-fueled power plant with CCS technology.
- Significantly increase funding for basic coal-specific research, development and demonstration to support the recommendations stated above.
- Create a flexible regulatory and legal structure for large-scale, long-term CCS.
- Develop efficient permitting and siting processes to move new coal-based generation projects to the finish line.
- Educate the public about clean coal technologies and CCS for energy security, economic progress and environmental improvement.