The Coal Utilization Research Council and Electric Power Research Institute have issued a joint report they say outlines how coal can remain relevant in the United States' power mix, largely by focusing on development of clean coal technologies.
Successfully developing new coal technologies could help reduce electricity prices by almost 40% by 2035, the report found.
But the benefits come with a cost: The report concludes research and development and large-scale pilot efforts could cost up to $1.4 billion in the early years and average $850 million through 2035.
Issued just days before the Obama administration's final Clean Power Plan regulations, set to help push thousands of megawatts of coal offline, a new report purports to show how the politically-sensitive fuel can prosper in the decades ahead.
“A diverse portfolio of generation options is a key component of the evolving, low-carbon modern power system,” EPRI President and CEO Michael Howard said in a statement.
The report, which updates analysis completed three years ago, “addresses those RD&D needs extending to 2035, helping to provide the industry, stakeholders and public a clear line of sight on the path forward,” Howard added.
The coal “roadmap” looks at three ways in which new carbon capture technology could be developed, including considering the value of the existing coal fleet and how to support it; a new “transformational” technology program that defines development needs; and a large-scale pilot with federal support for evaluating new technologies.
“The reality of the world today is that coal provides 30% of the world’s primary energy needs and will soon surpass oil as the world’s dominant fuel source” said Deck Slone, senior vice president of strategy and public policy at Arch Coal, and co-chair of CURC. “The new CURC-EPRI Roadmap is an invaluable tool for policymakers, illustrating how the global need for reliable and affordable energy can be harmonized with aspirations for a cleaner and more climate-compatible future.”
Modernizing the coal fleet could cost $850 million annually through 2035, the report found. Of that, the groups estimated a federal share of approximately $570 million to $940 million per year in the early years, and $495 million per year in the second decade.