- Southern Co. and state-owned Chinese coal and energy company Shenhua have inked a deal to collaborate on new coal technologies that will further fund Southern’s research and development at the Kemper coal-fired power plant.
- The $5 billion Kemper plant is being used to develop coal gasification and carbon capture technologies.
Looming EPA rules on carbon emissions from new and existing power plants will effectively force coal to be phased out of the U.S. electricity fuel mix. The deal with Shenhua could be the first step towards commercializing the technology being developed at Kemper, said analysts. This would be a massive step towards ensuring the future of coal as a "clean" fuel.
China currently gasifies hard coal for manufacturing plastics and fuels. Research at Kemper has developed a method of gasifying soft coals like lignite. According to the Electric Power Research Institute, developing soft coal reserves is a priority for China.