Key Issues & Mandates
Secure & Reliable Energy Supplies -
Realizing the Clean-Energy Potential of Domestic Coal: Market & Policy Drivers
Coal is a complex chemical latticework of carbon, hydrogen, and dozens of trace elements. When combusted, some of these elements, such as sulfur, nitrogen, and mercury, are converted to chemical forms that can create pollutants in the air and water. Carbon, the main constituent of coal, combines with oxygen from the air to form carbon dioxide which, in turn, can act as a “greenhouse gas” in the atmosphere to trap heat and potentially alter climate patterns.
Today, the United States and many other nations are seeking to develop a new generation of pollution control and power generating technologies that can sharply reduce – and perhaps one day eliminate – the environmental challenges of coal. Two Presidential Initiatives position our Nation as a leading player in this emerging technology field:
- The Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI) is a 10-year, $2-billion program in which the government provides up to 50 percent of the cost of demonstrating a range of promising technologies. CCPI is implemented through a series of five solicitations over the 10-year period, two of which have already been issued and selections made. CCPI provides the means to demonstrate those technologies proven through R&D to have commercial potential. Demonstrations are at a commercial scale in actual operating environments, which is essential to moving them to the threshold of commercialization.
- The Power Plant Improvement Initiative (PPII) was established in October 2000 to further the commercial-scale demonstration of clean coal technologies at existing and new electric generating facilities. The goals of PPII are geared toward demonstrating near-term advances in technologies to increase the efficiency, lower the emissions, and improve the economics and overall performance of coal-fired power plants, and will build on the successes gained through the Clean Coal Technology Demonstration Program (CCT Program). Projects will focus on more effective and lower cost emission controls, and improving the by-product utilization, performance, and reliability of power plants.
Tomorrow's coal plant may well become a multi-product “energy hub” – a facility that not only generates pollution-free electricity but also serves as a supply source for clean-burning hydrogen. To aid in reaching this goal, in February 2003 the Administration launched FutureGen, an integrated sequestration and hydrogen research initiative to design, build, and operate a coal gasification-based, nearly emission-free, coal-fired electricity and hydrogen production plant. Virtually every aspect of the 275-megawatt prototype plant will employ cutting-edge technology.