- Q: Why is coal research needed?
A: The energy resources that currently fuel the Nation’s economy are approximately 82 percent fossil-based, with coal playing a significant role. All segments of U.S. society rely on America’s existing multibillion-dollar investment in its highly reliable and affordable coal-based energy infrastructure. In the power-generation industry, coal is affordably producing approximately 40 percent of U.S. electricity. However, the continued use of coal faces an important strategic challenge. While demand for electricity continues to escalate, there are public concerns regarding coal-based energy systems emissions, particularly the greenhouse gas (GHG) carbon dioxide (CO2). The current cost of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an impediment to widespread deployment, and research and development (R&D) is needed to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
The global implications of coal research are clear as well. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has developed an illustrative energy pathway for meeting the goal of limiting the increase in average global temperature to 2 °C (3.6 °F) by 2050 (i.e., 2DS scenario), a temperature rise deemed to be relatively low risk. The IEA’s least‐cost strategies for the 2DS result in a 50 percent reduction of energy‐related GHG emissions by 2050 (compared to 2009 levels). According to IEA, removing CCS from the list of options to reduce emissions in electricity generation increases the required capital investments necessary to meet the same emissions constraint by $3.1 trillion, a 40 percent increase.
- Q: How is the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) organized to conduct coal research, development, and demonstration (RD&D)?
A: Coal-related research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) is funded and performed under the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy’s (FE) Clean Coal and Carbon Management Research Program (CCCMRP). CCCMRP is managed by FE and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is the lead field organization for its implementation. NETL is a government-owned and government-operated facility, owned by the Federal government and operated by DOE.
- Q: How is the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s (NETL) implementation of the Clean Coal and Carbon Management Research Program (CCCMRP) organized?
A: The Clean Coal and Carbon Management Research Program (CCCMRP) is implemented by the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s (NETL) Strategic Center for Coal (SCC) and is organized into two major program areas: Coal and Power Research and Development (R&D), and Major Demonstrations. Under the Coal and Power R&D area, SCC implements coal-related research in four subprograms: Advanced Energy Systems, Carbon Capture, Carbon Storage, and Crosscutting Technology Research. The Major Demonstrations area addresses the key challenges that confront the wide-scale industrial deployment of CCS technologies by sponsoring large-scale demonstrations of key R&D technologies, including the cost-effective capture, utilization, and geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) integrated with power-generation and industrial facilities. The SCC’s Office of Program Performance and Benefits helps to guide and evaluate the research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) implemented by these two program areas by providing analytical support.
- Q: What are the technology and economic challenges that are addressed in the Clean Coal and Carbon Management Research Program (CCCMRP)?
A: The integration of carbon capture and storage (CCS) with coal-fired power generation at commercial scale needs to be demonstrated and the permanence and safety of geologic carbon dioxide (CO2) storage must be ensured. Reducing capital and operating costs of CCS would help accelerate widespread deployment on both new and existing facilities for a wide range of fuel types and geologic storage settings. Overcoming these challenges requires innovative strategies that must be developed in conjunction with the private sector, universities and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) national laboratories. To achieve this end, DOE is addressing the key challenges that confront the wide-scale commercial deployment of CCS through industry/government/academic cooperative research on cost-effective capture, storage, and efficiency-improvement technologies for both power and industrial facilities.
- Q: What is the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s (NETL) coal research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) strategy?
A: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) plays a key role in helping the United States meet its continually growing need for secure, reasonably priced, and environmentally sound energy supplies and products. DOE’s clean coal research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) strategy is focused on developing and demonstrating advanced power generation and carbon capture, utilization, and geologic storage technologies for existing facilities and new fossil-fueled power plants by increasing overall system efficiencies and reducing capital costs. Although the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s (NETL) Coal research and development (R&D) Program does support fundamental R&D (particularly through smaller grants directed through the Small Business Innovation Research [SBIR] Program), its primary focus is on applied R&D that will develop these technologies for rapid deployment in the energy marketplace. Advanced technologies that increase the power generation efficiency for new plants and technologies to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from new and existing industrial and power-producing plants are being developed over two timeframes. R&D efforts for “Second-Generation” technologies are well underway, including scaling these technologies up for pilot testing, with the expectation that they will be ready for demonstration in the 2020–2025 timeframe. R&D efforts on more advanced “Transformational” technologies are in earlier stages, and those technologies are targeted for demonstration in the 2025–2030 timeframe. These activities will help allow coal to remain a strategic fuel for the Nation while enhancing environmental protection.
- Q: What is the size of the Clean Coal and Carbon Management Research Program (CCCMRP)?
A: As of April 2015, there were more than 400 active projects within the Clean Coal and Carbon Management Research Program (CCCMRP) research and development (R&D) portfolio. This portfolio had a value of approximately $2.7 billion ($2.0 billion U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) share and $0.7 billion private-sector share), spanning multiple years. The CCCMRP R&D including demonstration portfolio includes nearly 400 projects with a value of approximately $12.1 billion of which over $8.0 billion is private-sector share, spanning multiple years. This large amount of cost-shared R&D, unique in comparison to typical practice at other laboratories, sets the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) apart and fosters the private sector’s commitment to the shared R&D program.
- Q: What is the budget for the Clean Coal and Carbon Management Research Program (CCCMRP)?
A: The fiscal year 2015 Clean Coal and Carbon Management Research Program (CCCMRP) research and development (R&D) budget is $400 million (Carbon Capture: $88 million, Carbon Storage: $100 million, Advanced Energy Systems, $103 million, Supercritical Transformational Electric Power (STEP): $10 million, Crosscutting Research: $49 million, and National Energy Technology Laboratory [NETL] Coal R&D: $50 million).
- Q: How does the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) measure the effectiveness of the Clean Coal and Carbon Management Research Program (CCCMRP)?
A: The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has routinely performed various assessments to better gauge the maturity of technologies being developed under the Clean Coal and Carbon Management Research Program (CCCMRP). For example, NETL conducts Peer Reviews of its extramural research and development (R&D) projects and Merit Reviews of its intramural R&D projects to solicit feedback from external sources to help ensure that the R&D is compliant with the DOE Strategic Plan and DOE guidance. In addition, Peer Reviews and Merit Reviews improve the overall quality of the technical aspects of R&D activities. Independent Professional Organizations (IPOs) such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme (IEAGHG) are engaged in these reviews to improve their overall quality and gain valuable external insight on the value of these programs from independent experts. Also, beginning in 2012, NETL implemented the Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) process as the basis for a detailed, structured evaluation of the maturity of NETL’s key technologies. Through Peer Reviews and other tools, NETL is able to evaluate its programs, ensure relevance to national energy needs, and guide decisions at the project and program level.
Furthermore, the research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) performance of the Office of Fossil Energy’s (FE) CCMRRP RD&D portfolio is measured using the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) methodology to quantify progress against pre-established targets. For example, the Carbon Storage Program had a fiscal year (FY) 2014 GPRA target to cumulatively inject 6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into geologic formations. The program exceeded this target by safely injecting more than 7.6 million metric tons by the end of FY 2014.
- Q: What are the benefits of the Clean Coal and Carbon Management Research Program (CCCMRP)?
A: Successful research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of Clean Coal and Carbon Management Research Program Clean Coal Research Program (CCCMRP) technologies will enable the U.S. to maintain a lead role in the reduction of GHG emissions from the power sector, while at the same time preserve or improve economic growth, environmental sustainability, and energy security. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) regularly assesses the expected impacts of the CCCMRP in order to ensure that the technologies, goals and objectives of the CCCMRP will be effective at producing significant public benefits in these areas. A recent assessment (March 2015) assumed a scenario in which U.S. CO2 emissions from the power sector are significantly reduced, achieving an 80% reduction by 2040 from 2005 levels. Meeting CCCMRP goals (relative to a case without CCCMRP RD&D) results in an additional 40 GW of power plants with CO2 capture and storage, $242 billion in GDP, $133 billion in income, 2.9 Gigatonnes of CO2 captured and stored–resulting in an additional 4 billion barrels of oil produced via CO2-enhanced oil recovery (EOR), and 2.4 million job-years, all cumulative through 2040. These impacts suggest that the CCCMRP can play a key role in sustaining the economy, the environment, and energy security as the U.S. moves forward to address issue of climate change.
- Q: What coal technologies are currently being demonstrated at large scale?
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is supporting the large-scale demonstration of advanced coal-based power-generation technologies in several technology areas including: Gasification Systems, Advanced Turbines, Carbon Capture, and Carbon Storage. The demonstration of key technologies allows for: (1) representation of various technology configurations, (2) utilization of various coal types as feedstocks, (3) production of a variety of commodities, and (4) utilization of the captured carbon dioxide (CO2
) for multiple purposes, including chemical production, saline reservoir storage, and enhanced oil recovery (EOR). For more information, see: Major Demonstrations.
- Q: Where can I find further information regarding coal programs?