Coal Utilization Research Council
Using Technology to Reduce Emissions
Coal will continue to play a vital role in meeting energy needs and its abundance and use in the United States helps to insure our national energy security. Technologies must be available to insure that U.S. coal resources continue to meet energy needs while cost-effectively reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Technology also will play a crucial role worldwide as the demand for energy from coal grows rapidly.
As part of CURC’s advocacy before Congress, members of CURC’s Technical Subcommittee have drafted a paper on the benefits of investment in advanced coal technology
that is intended to provide Members of Congress and their staff with information on the major improvements seen since the 1970's in air quality, economic benefits to consumers, low cost electricity generated from coal, and widespread deployment of advanced coal technologies – all a direct result of our nation’s investment in coal RD&D.
The Roadmap, developed with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in consultation with the Department of Energy (the CURC-EPRI Technology Roadmap), is a plan to continually improve the environmental performance of coal use while delivering coal-derived products, low-cost electricity, liquid and gaseious fuels and chemical feedstocks to America. It defines a set of specific technology solutions that CURC members believe are needed to address on-going and future challenges to the use of coal. The Roadmap also serves as the framework that will facilitate the planning and coordination of technology research, development and demonstration to be undertaken by the federal government in partnership with the private sector. Most importantly, the CURC-EPRI Roadmap identifies a set of technology options that will help ensure coal continues to provide economic, environmental and energy security benefits to the nation.
CURC and EPRI have updated the coal technology roadmap, initially drafted in early 2000, modified in 2008 and most recently updated in 2012. Since the roadmap was modified in 2008, significant changes have occurred both in technology development and in society’s needs, and the updated Roadmap reflect those changes. These changes include diminished expectations that legislation regulating the emission of greenhouse gas (GHG) will be enacted; an effort to regulate GHG emissions based on existing legislative authority; new environmental regulations related to traditional pollutants; a slowdown in the U.S. economy; and additional knowledge about the opportunity for low-cost anthropogenic CO2 to facilitate enhanced oil recovery (EOR) to displace imported oil.
The 2012 CURC-EPRI Technology Roadmap describes technologies needed to acquire a set of benefits from coal that each organization views as important and achievable through advancements in technology. In general, those benefits fall into the familiar categories of environmental quality, energy security, and economic prosperity.
Fossil Energy Appropriations
In order to achieve the challenging CO2 emission reduction schedules that have been discussed in Congress, much more significant levels of funding for coal-related technology development, demonstration and deployment will be required, and a multi-year commitment from the federal government is needed that industry can rely upon. CURC believes Congress should consider funding programs for multiple years through advance appropriations, and that funding for the DOE Clean Coal Power Initiative should be increased in order to support large scale carbon capture and storage technology demonstrations. CURC is advocating for increased coal RD&D funding in the House and Senate FY 2013 Energy & Water Appropriations measures. Last year, CURC drafted and submitted testimony to the House and Senate Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittees with specific funding needs and recommendations for the DOE coal programs.
CURC annually conducts staff briefings in both the House and Senate to provide Congressional staff with information about coal, its availability, the challenges to its use, the technologies that will insure its continued use in a cost effective and environmentally-acceptable manner and the role government might play in insuring its continued use. This year, CURC conducting a briefing for both House and Senate that highlighted the important role technology plays in ensuring our abundant domestic coal resources continue to contribute to our nation’s domestic economic and energy security. The technology showcase briefed participants on the collaborative investment efforts to develop innovative coal utilization technologies, and described CURC's roadmap for ensuring technology development and deployment ensures coal’s economic and environmental competitiveness into the future.
CURC staff also regularly participates in educational meetings and briefings with staff from House and Senate offices and Committees, the Administration, state governments and other interest groups to discuss clean coal issues. This education is important in insuring the industry message for clean coal technologies continues to be heard by those in Washington developing the policies that affect how coal is used. Members of CURC also provide input and materials to help develop the message that CURC delivers to legislators on Capitol Hill.
In the past, several organizations sponsored a similar set of Congressional briefings, including the American Public Power Association, Association of American Railroads, Edison Electric Institute, Electric Power Research Institute, Electric Power Supply Association, National Mining Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, United Mine Workers of America, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Every year CURC hosts two General Membership Meetings to discuss the status of CURC activities and how CURC should position itself with respect to technology development programs and activities. Representatives from nearly all of our 50 member companies attend these meetings, which are chaired by Alpha Natural Resources and Southern Company, CURC’s 2012 Co-chairs. These meetings provide attendees with a forum to exchange views as well as provide various perspectives about the way that technology might be utilized to meet our Nation's energy and environmental needs. They also provide a venue for CURC to conduct official business and outline strategies and activities for proposed CURC initiatives.
Every March, CURC hosts a two day workshop with the Department of Energy and National Energy Technology Laboratory program managers and selected members of CURC to discuss in detail the DOE coal RD&D programs. Members of the CURC Steering Committee participate in these small, intimate meetings in order to gain a sense of how the DOE programs align with technology development goals identified in the CURC-EPRI Roadmap and to discuss how industry and DOE can further mutual technology development goals.
Monthly, CURC holds a Government Affairs Subcommittee meeting in Washington to discuss the status of CURC initiatives with Congress and the Administration among the Washington Representatives of the CURC member companies. These meetings provide a forum to discuss legislative developments and to coordinate our advocacy resources on issues important to our collective membership.
Development of Helpful Tools and Information
CURC has drafted a number of educational papers and 'Issue Briefs' on various clean coal incentive programs that have been prepared to assist CURC members in identifying opportunities at the federal state level for the development of clean coal projects.
Other useful tools and information are continuously developed by our staff, including a list and description of energy legislation that has been introduced in this Congress that affect the use of coal, bill analysis and reporting, and the development of presentations, charts and other useful tools that help CURC members in their continued advocacy efforts.