Global Environmental Benefits

Environmental performance for future energy production systems is a much greater factor as emission standards tighten in the United States and worldwide. The outstanding environmental performance of gasification systems makes it an excellent technology for the clean production of electricity and other products. In addition, the reduction of CO2 emissions is one of the major challenges facing industry in response to global climate change.  Other countries with coal reserves might potentially import technologies developed in the United States to enable low-cost gasification with carbon capture and EOR or sequestration. Not only will this benefit the U.S. gasification technology industry, but it will also result in a global environmental benefit through more affordable control of greenhouse gases (GHGs). See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) link below for a summary of the impact of fossil fuels without carbon capture on CO2 emissions, on the GHG contributions of different countries, and of the projected impact of developing countries to 2030:

Gasification technologies are inherently low in air emissions, solid by-products, and waste water. Commercial gasification-based plants have proven capable of exceeding the most stringent air and solid emissions regulations (see Exhibit ES-2, Environmental Impact Comparison in the EPA/DOE report Environmental Footprints and Costs of Coal-Based Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle and Pulverized Coal Technologies). 

The Comparison of IGCC to PC: Two New Units in Texas table compares the recently permitted air emissions for two proposed generation projects in Texas – an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant and a pulverized coal (PC) combustion plant. The IGCC emissions are lower by almost an order of magnitude than that of the PC plant.

Comparison of IGCC to PC: Two Planned Units in Texas*


Texas Clean Energy Project – IGCC Tenaska Trailblazer – PC
Gross Output (MW) 400 765
SO2 (lb/MMBtu) 0.0057 0.06
NOx (lb/MMBtu) 0.012 0.016
PM (lb/MMBtu) 0.0087 0.025
CO (lb/MMBtu) 0.02 0.1
VOC (lb/GWh) 0.00325 0.0036
Hg (lb/GWh) 0.00325 0.016
CO2 (lbs/netMWh) 228 889.5
*Steve Jenkins, "Environmental Performance of Gasification Technologies", GTC Regulatory Workshop, April 25, 2012

Furthermore, while water conservation is becoming increasingly important worldwide, gasification systems will lead to less water use (by about one-half) for the production of power. A recent DOE/NETL study shows that gasification uses less water – both with and without carbon capture – than combustion technologies to convert coal into power.