Director's Corner

Release Date: May 04, 2016

Accelerating New Fossil Energy Innovations through Regional Partnerships


Photo courtesy of the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research


Recently, I had an exciting opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss the future of energy in America with more than 100 invited energy stakeholders from 11 states at the Regional Energy Innovation Forum, sponsored by the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research. It was an excellent forum, at which I highlighted the kind of projects NETL is pursuing in partnership with the private sector and university researchers.

Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz was the keynote speaker and lay the groundwork for a productive exchange of ideas. He said that the Administration’s “all of the above” energy portfolio strategy, which was touted at the Paris Climate Conference, is an opportunity for the coal industry to reinvent itself, especially if our combined efforts can reduce the cost of carbon capture or coal conversion technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The Secretary’s remarks set the stage for a panel discussion I moderated called “New Value Creation from Coal.” I was joined on the panel by Rick Honacker, chair of the College of Engineering at the University of Kentucky; Sallie Greenberg, associate director of the Advanced Energy Technology Initiate with the Illinois Geological Survey; Kipp Coddington, director of the University of Wyoming’s Carbon Management Institute; and Don Stevenson, executive director of R&D Energy Supply and Conversion at the Gas Technology Institute.

We all shared the same goal: the aggressive pursuit of new technologies to provide energy options that fuel the nation’s economy, strengthen national security, and improve the environment. In that vein, we talked about carbon capture innovations, methane hydrates, and the natural gas industry. Most important, we talked about how opportunities are growing for collaborative efforts to advance new technologies in the “all of the above” scenario.

Our nation is committed to progressively lowering carbon emissions, but it has not abandoned coal and other fossil energy resources as a part of our energy future. As Secretary Moniz noted in his Kentucky visit, fossil fuel will continue to be an important part of America’s energy future. Otherwise, the Administration’s budget proposal would not have included significant funding for demonstration projects or tax credits to boost use of carbon capture technologies, and $600 million for research to “advance the role of coal in a future clean energy economy.”

Events such as the Regional Energy Innovation Forum at the University of Kentucky create important dialogues among energy stakeholders focused on accelerating innovation into the marketplace through regional partnerships.

NETL, with a solid record of research success, is poised to continue its work to reduce the cost of important carbon capture technologies and keep fossil energy an important and vital part of the nation’s energy mix. It was an honor to appear with Secretary Moniz at the Kentucky event to present our story and to hear from current and potential research partners.

As Acting Director of NETL, Sean I. Plasynski, Ph.D., builds on an extensive background in energy as he leads NETL in its mission to enhance the nation’s energy independence and protect the environment for future generations. For more information about Sean Plasynski's experience, please click here.