U.S. Department of Energy: Coal FIRST Initiative

Guest David Middleton

While we miss Gov. Perry here in Texas, he is doing a great job at the Department of Energy…

Office of Fossil Energy

Energy Department Announces Intent to Fund Research that Advances the Coal Plants of the Future

NOVEMBER 13, 2018

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) announced its intent to fund competitive research and development (R&D) efforts in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 that will advance first-of-a-kind coal generation technologies.  This effort—the Coal FIRST (Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, Transformative) initiative—will develop the coal plant of the future needed to provide secure, stable, and reliable power.  This R&D will underpin coal-fired power plants that are capable of flexible operations to meet the needs of the grid; use innovative and cutting-edge components that improve efficiency and reduce emissions; provide resilient power to Americans; are small compared to today’s conventional utility-scale coal; and will transform how coal technologies are designed and manufactured.

Changes to the U.S. electricity industry are forcing a paradigm shift in how the nation’s generating assets are operated.  Coal-fired power plants optimized as baseload resources are being increasingly relied on as load-following resources to support electricity generated from intermittent renewable capacity, as well as to provide critical ancillary services to the grid.  In addition, wide-scale retirements of the nation’s existing fleet of coal-fired power plants—without replacement—may lead to a significant undermining of the resiliency of America’s electricity supply.  Nevertheless, the need for considerable dispatchable generation, critical ancillary services, and grid reliability—combined with potentially higher future natural gas prices, and energy security concerns, such as the importance of onsite fuel availability during extreme weather events—create the opportunity for advanced coal-fired generation, for both domestic and international deployment.  These fundamental changes to the operating and economic environment in which coal plants function are expected to persist into the next decade and beyond.  Deployment of new coal plants will require a different way of thinking.

To that end, DOE envisions that the future coal fleet may be based on electricity generating units possessing many of the following traits:

  • High overall plant efficiency (40%+ HHV or higher at full load, with minimal reductions in efficiency over the required generation range)
  • Small (unit sizes of approximately 50 to 350 MW), maximizing the benefits of high-quality, low-cost shop fabrication to minimize field construction costs, and project cycletime
  • Near-zero emissions, with options to consider plant designs that inherently emit no or low amounts of carbon dioxide (amounts that are equal to or lower than natural gas technologies) or could be retrofitted with carbon capture without significant plant modifications
  • Capable of high ramprates and minimum loads commensurate with estimates of renewable market penetration by 2050
  • Integration with thermal or other energy storage (e.g., chemical production) to ease intermittency inefficiencies and equipment damage
  • Minimized water consumption
  • Reduced design, construction, and commissioning schedules from conventional norms by leveraging techniques including but not limited to advanced process engineering and parametric design methods for modular design
  • Enhanced maintenance features including technology advances with monitoring and diagnostics to reduce maintenance and minimize forced outages
  • Integration with coal upgrading, or other plant value streams (e.g., co-production)
  • Capable of natural gas co-firing.

In FY 2019, DOE plans to issue three competitively-funded R&D efforts, which may ultimately culminate in the design, construction, and operation of a coal-based pilot-scale power plant.  These efforts—informed by a Request for Information that DOE issued in May 2018—are as follows:

1.  A Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking conceptual design for coal-based power plants of the future and an option to conduct a preliminary front end engineering design (Pre-FEED).  To achieve this end, DOE encourages broad teaming arrangements that engage A/E firms, technology developers, equipment manufacturers, and end users.  The solicitation is anticipated to be issued in November 2018.

2.  A Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for cost-shared research and development R&D projects focused on steam turbines that can be integrated into a 50-350 MW future advanced coal plant design.  The FOA is anticipated to be issued in the second quarter of fiscal year 2019.

3.  A FOA for cost-shared R&D projects focused on critical components and advanced approaches (e.g., manufacturing, fabrication, advanced design) that are needed to support a future coal plant.  This FOA is expected to have two closings.  The objectives and scope of the first closing will be informed by the conceptual designs completed under contracts awarded under the RFP.Likewise, the objectives and scope of the second closing will be informed by the Pre-FEED studies completed under contracts awarded under the RFP.  The FOA is anticipated to be issued in the third quarter of FY 2019.

The Coal FIRST initiative will make coal-fired power plants in the future more adaptive to the modern electrical grid.  The initiative will integrate early-stage R&D on power plant components with currently available technologies into a first-of-a-kind system.  Through innovative technologies and advanced approaches to design and manufacturing, the initiative will look beyond today’s utility-scale power plant concepts (e.g. base-load units) in ways that integrate with the electrical grid in the United States and internationally.

Read the full synopsis, Reference Number 89243319RFE000015, here.

U.S. Department of Energy

Why on Earth would the Department of Energy be willing to fund advanced coal-fired power plants?  Because coal’s not going away anytime in the near future…

Nov 15, 2018

Global Coal Demand Increased In 2017

Jude Clemente

Even with the Paris climate accords signed in late-2015, global coal demand in 2017 rose for the first time in two years, as reported by the Paris-based International Energy Agency during its annual World Energy Outlook release week.

We energy-saturated Westerners, of course, have a hard time understanding this.


Although a little known secret, even the great switch to renewables will mean more coal. Coal is an integral component for 70% of global steel production, and via steel, “There’s about 150 tonnes of metallurgical coal via steel in an onshore windmill – and 250 tonnes of coal in an offshore one.

Geology surely will not stop coal. In terms of proven coal reserves alone, Asia and the world have an 80 and 135 year supply, respectively – with the resource much larger.


Moroever, as these emerging economies build out their transportation fleets, the goal for more electric vehicles will make coal power even more vital. Globally, IEA projects that there could be over 900 million electric cars in the world by 2040, helping all sources of electricity.

It is actually a very simple concept: IEA sees a 60% surge in global power demand by 2040, so obviously coal, the main source of electricity, should be expected to grow.

As far as the lack of money that was supposed to kill coal, the banks are not cutting coal funding nearly as much as some claim. In fact, BankTrack.org finds that bank financing for coal did drop in 2016 right after the signing of the Paris Climate Accord only to go back up again in 2017. From 2015-2017, 35 major banks that BankTrack followed had financed $52 billion for coal mining and $94 billion for coal electricity projects.

The focus must be on evolving technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy wants to fund competitive research and development efforts that will advance first-of-a-kind coal generation technologies. Since our own coal demand has peaked, this effort would surely help others “use coal cleaner.”

Realizing the practicality of more coal, large-scale and affordable Carbon Capture and Storage has long been at the center of IEA’s Technology Roadmap to meet climate goals.


The really cool thing about “large-scale and affordable Carbon Capture and Storage” is that small-scale Carbon Capture and Storage can turn 100 bbl/d into 3,000 bbl/d in a matter of a few months…

Clean Coal: Carbon Capture and Enhanced Oil Recovery, Part Deux

Bye, by war on coal!


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November 19, 2018 7:04 am

Dig babee, DIG! Got friends in coal industry, their companies are competing fiercely with gas and oil companies for new employees! If I was 10 years younger I would get my operator’s ticket and join up.

November 19, 2018 7:08 am

What’s needed is to pull the (funding) plug on all Carbon Capture & Storage projects NOW!

They still believe (& this is an accurate quote):
“The focus must be on evolving technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world.”

This stupidity must be revealed for what it is! Go to the CO2 Coalition to find out more!

Reply to  tomwys
November 19, 2018 7:36 am

Maybe the $50 billion that U.S. taxpayers had to shovel out to wind and solar companies for the last decade to make under 5% of our energy, unreliable, will be reallocated to it.

Reply to  tomwys
November 19, 2018 9:12 am

Actually, captured CO2 can help recover oil that would normally stay in the well. That is what is being done at the Petra Nova project in Texas.

Robert of Texas
Reply to  oeman50
November 19, 2018 10:37 am

You still have the cost of separating the CO2 in the first place, then transporting it through a pipeline to the injection points, and then of course having a highly compressed potentially dangerous gas stuffed underground where it might or might not stay.

So there are more costs and risks in doing this rather than just stuffing a bunch of air (mostly nitrogen) into the pores. If they can make a profit then I am happy for them, but CO2 gas is dangerous when concentrated… A pipeline breaks and it goes sinking down into the first depressions it flows across.

Mature oil fields have a LOT of opportunities for leaking, so it would not surprise me is most of the CO2 stuffed into the ground doesn’t migrate out over the next 30-40 years. It will not be dangerous, at least not likely to be, but it also means you didn’t sequester the CO2 which was payed for – so higher costs with no benefit.

I am just not a big fan of storing a concentrated potentially dangerous gas down a hole and hoping it stays put… I would rather make sure it chemically reacts into a carbonate of some kind. Or, better yet, let the CO2 out into the air so plants can eat it.

Loren Wilson
Reply to  Robert of Texas
November 19, 2018 12:08 pm

Robert, the original natural gas and oil in that reservoir has been there for a long time, and it didn’t leak out. the reservoir already contains some CO2, so adding more is not going to be a problem unless you exceed the original pressure in the reservoir. Unfortunately, the economics of this particular application do not apply to most power plants because they are too far from a suitable reservoir. This one works out due to the existence of an unused pipeline that could be utilized, and a field on the other end of the line that was a good candidate for CO2 flooding.

Dr. Bob
Reply to  Robert of Texas
November 19, 2018 1:15 pm

CO2 binds to the rock and ultimately will not escape.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
November 19, 2018 2:53 pm

Robert, if the ground were as porous as you believe, there would be no oil or gas left. It would have escaped millions of years ago.

Richard Bell
Reply to  tomwys
November 19, 2018 11:00 am

[for the humor impaired, this is very tongue in cheek]

There is one group of long term carbon capture and storage projects that should be left alone, as they are already proven to work, without any need for further research. The process involved has already been implemented in most places where it is viable. The agencies that promote these projects are very active in establishing more and more projects as viability for them expand.

While not violent in even the least way, the only way to discourage them is to attack them with axes and chainsaws. The only danger they present is that the more radical elements will, like buddhist monks, immolate themselves to protest not being allowed to operate as they please. As these immolations can be done by very large groups, at the same time, it is perilous to encroach on these projects.

In a nutshell, the forests should just be allowed to grow in area.

Hocus Locus
Reply to  Richard Bell
November 20, 2018 2:58 am

The California fires are a carbon capture experiment gone horribly wrong. Every time I hear the phrase ‘in a nutshell’ I cannot help but imagine what follows actually being placed inside a nutshell. So far it has just been a bunch of silly ideas… but you have populated my mental nutshell interior with beautiful forests. Thank you.

Reply to  tomwys
November 19, 2018 11:49 am

What’s needed is to pull the (funding) plug on all Carbon Capture & Storage projects NOW!

Exactly. Get rid of that, and also the ridiculous MATS regulations (solely designed by enviro-nuts to shut down coal use), and coal is very competitive to natural gas and its supply & cost more consistent in the long run. Standardized fluidized-bed coal plants will fit the bill.

November 19, 2018 6:42 pm

Excerpt of Rex Murphy’s article (above):

“One of the more distinguishing aspects of the global warming frenzy is the playful manner in which its adherents approach language. Whenever they feel the need to rearrange the terms of debate, counter the emergence of “inconvenient” facts, or simply put a whole new banner on the crusade, neither shame nor consistency offers any brake to their innovations.

Should the world, the weather, their most central projections “present” in any manner that doesn’t accord with their most pious predispositions, then they simply rename the whole thing. In the beginning it was always the fight against Global Warming — capital G, capital W.

But Global Warming proved an unaccommodating brand. When snow in all its abundant white purity continued to fall where snow was no longer meant to fall, when glaciers failed to move and melt at the speeds Global Warming had promised they would, when temperatures dropped to chilling Antarctic levels in places where Global Warming prophets had projected the growth of palm trees, even the sages of the IPCC realized it was time to change the window display, and put a new face on the failing campaign.

Global Warming proved an unaccommodating brand,

Hence the birth of Climate Change, a term so generously elastic and gorgeously tautological that it could fit all occasions, even to the contradiction of the principles of the “science” it was purported to designate. Cold, hot, moist or dry — there was no condition that could not be stuffed under Climate Change, no random spurt of headline-making weather, local storm or global current that could not be folded neatly under its wonderfully wide-winged umbrella.”

Gary Grubbs
Reply to  tomwys
November 19, 2018 4:43 pm

tomwys – Amen to your statement. I worked on several projects for EPRI and DOE on carbon capture and sequestration and the amount of energy required to remove the CO2, compress it and transport it is prohibitive and reduces the plant efficiency to a point where they cannot be competitive with most other power sources. That is the death knell of coal.

Reply to  tomwys
December 2, 2018 7:16 pm

Thank You Tom—I subscribed.
Many of you will love another site Count On Coal, which alerts you about legislation or regulations affecting coal.

Tom Halla
November 19, 2018 7:14 am

It does appear that some of the design problems with advanced coal plants is allowing for unreliables in the system. Perhaps if one just eliminated wind and solar. . .

Reply to  Tom Halla
November 19, 2018 8:48 am

I suspect that they are giving lip service to renewables and carbon capture so as not to present too big a target to the greenies.

Reply to  commieBob
November 19, 2018 2:55 pm

Hopefully the internal documents make it clear that carbon capture and such is the lowest of priorities.

November 19, 2018 7:19 am

“Near-zero emissions, with options to consider plant designs that inherently emit no or low amounts of carbon dioxide (amounts that are equal to or lower than natural gas technologies) or could be retrofitted with carbon capture without significant plant modifications”

To equal NG CO2 emissions, is the first 50% of the CCS much, much easier and cheaper than the second 50%? Will there be advances in cheaper and more effective CCS? Seems like there could be a commercial market for CO2 injection to enhance oil recoveries.

If we can make a smaller clean coal fleet equal to NG in both cleaner emissions and the same net CO2 output, while increasing an oil well output with CO2 injection, what’s not to like? Sounds like this is not only doable, but could be implemented very soon.

Lee L
November 19, 2018 7:31 am

Seems to me it’s time nuke up. Less true waste, less CO2 to capture, less radiation to the environment.


CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  Lee L
November 19, 2018 8:34 am

Back in 2016, the DOE announced $80 million was to be allocated for the development of the Pebble Bed Reactor and Molten Chloride Fast Reactors (MCFR):



Don’t get me wrong here. I am all for the R&D to develop the next generation of coal-fired power plants as the DOE is investing in according to the post above. We have enough coal to last us a long time. It’s just that we should not rely on just one or two electrical energy sources and should not put all of our energy R&D eggs into one basket. Glad to see that the DOE understands this and isn’t doing it.

The future of GE’s PRISM reactor is probably more cloudy now with the legal and financial problems GE is reported to be having. But here is the website that talks about PRISM:


Lance Flake
Reply to  Lee L
November 19, 2018 8:52 am

For the same money they could build a few molten salt reactors that already work. Or heaven forbid put a few bucks into fusion research. But more crony capitalism is all that Washington can think of.

John Endicott
Reply to  Lance Flake
November 19, 2018 10:00 am

Where can I see one of these already working molten salt reactors? What’s that? there are none in commercial operation?

Look, molten salt reactors sound really good in theory (and I’d love to see them become a reality, assuming they really do work as advertised). So far they haven’t made it into practice. When that changes then you can go on about “molten salt reactors that already work”

Hocus Locus
Reply to  John Endicott
November 20, 2018 3:15 am

You’re right. We should abandon fusion research. Molten salt uranium burners have been built and tested, Weinberg decided not to put a breeding Thorium blanket around his prototypes so he could have access to the core for neutron measurements. He could not have foreseen that his life’s work would be shut down and abandoned.

John Endicott
Reply to  Hocus Locus
November 20, 2018 5:25 am

Where did I say we should abandon fusion research? Oh, that’s right, no where! You are attacking a strawman, well done you. Pointing out that something is not currently in operation because it’s apparently not yet ready for prime time is not the same thing as saying “abandon the research”.

Hocus Locus
Reply to  Hocus Locus
November 20, 2018 5:48 am

Might as well, since there are none in commercial operation. Some times attacking straw men is the best way to draw people out to describe what they are inferring. Molten salt reactors are closer to prime time than fusion ever was.

John Endicott
Reply to  Hocus Locus
November 20, 2018 7:02 am

close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades as the saying goes. Solar and Wind are close to replacing fossil fuels, according to some. Let’s not fall into the trap of celebrating “close” as if it’s a done deal. Molten salt reactors are promising but they’re not there yet. That doesn’t mean we should abandon them (or fussion or any other technology development) but we also shouldn’t be “big upping” something that, until now, remains vaporware.

John Endicott
Reply to  Hocus Locus
November 20, 2018 7:09 am

Some times attacking straw men is the best way to draw people out to describe what they are inferring

or you could, you know, try reading (using a little comprehension) what they said and asking question about anything you found unclear. It’s called communication. You’ll find it works a lot better for understanding that valiantly slaying strawmen of your own making.

Reply to  Lance Flake
November 19, 2018 10:36 am

It’s only crony capitalism when government is spending money on stuff you don’t approve of?

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  Lee L
November 19, 2018 10:00 am

Lance Flake: Not sure I know what you are talking about.

The only time and place where there has ever been an MSR that “already worked” was back in the 1960’s at the Oak Ridge National Lab. The R&D for the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) project back then was shut down by Nixon in the early 1970’s for political reasons before the MSR could be refined and scaled up to commercial use. The R&D for MSRs only resumed in that last decade when the technology was rediscovered and interest in it was revived.

As for nuclear fusion, research (and the money to fund it) has been going on for some time now:

The article above states that the U.S. contributes under $600 million per year in the fusion energy research. I don’t know if you consider that enough, but at least it’s better than nothing.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
November 19, 2018 1:06 pm

CD in Wisconsin

I would happily volunteer the £300Bn that’s being wasted between 2015 and 2050 on the UK Climate Change Act for US fusion power research.

A much more worthy cause.

Reply to  HotScot
November 19, 2018 2:57 pm

Even if fusion is never achieved, the knowledge gained in sub-atomic physics might benefit us somewhere else.

Russell Mitchell
November 19, 2018 7:51 am

“The really cool thing about “large-scale and affordable Carbon Capture and Storage” is that small-scale Carbon Capture and Storage can turn 100 bbl/d into 3,000 bbl/d in a matter of a few months…”

Would someone be willing to explain this to the liberal arts major please?

Russell Mitchell
Reply to  David Middleton
November 19, 2018 9:00 am

With respect (more than you have shown me), expertise in one field does not translate to expertise in another field.” I am *interested* in what you are saying — I do not always have the background to understand references which other readers here take for granted. (Just as, were you to somehow to be reading in my area of expertise and somebody tossed off an “obvious” reference to 1396 Nicopolis, you might need to ask for clarification or additional context).

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  Russell Mitchell
November 19, 2018 9:11 am

The ” search ” bar ( top right of page ) really IS your friend ….

Reply to  Russell Mitchell
November 19, 2018 8:44 am

A bit of a cryptic comment to be sure.
bbl/d refers to barrels per day of oil production from an oil well or an oil field. What the author is referring to is the process of enhanced recovery now used in some oil fields. Simply put, when an oil well starts reaching it’s end of life, the injection of carbon dioxide under high pressure into the well allows more oil to be produced. Depending on the particular geology of the oil field, the results can be dramatic.
It also is the one use of the dreaded carbon dioxide from power plants which drives the environmentalists into total meltdown. (Life is good!)

Russell Mitchell
Reply to  TonyL
November 19, 2018 8:51 am

Thank you, TonyL. I was completely failing to figure out what the connection there was.

Another Paul
Reply to  Russell Mitchell
November 19, 2018 10:41 am

“…can turn 100 bbl/d into 3,000 bbl/d in a matter of a few months…” Could you expand on that a bit?

Loren Wilson
Reply to  Russell Mitchell
November 19, 2018 12:22 pm

Russell, more than half of the oil in a reservoir is not recovered by the normal production, which we call primary production. This oil exists as small droplets in pores in the rock, and does not easily flow to the well. To produce more of this oil, the field can be re-pressurized with CO2. When enough CO2 is added to the well, it can dissolve most of the oil, and allow it to flow to the production well. Normally, this is done in a grid pattern where some wells inject CO2, and others produce the mixed oil + CO2. The CO2 is usually separated from the oil and re-injected. In this case, some of the CO2 produced by the power plant is captured via an amine-based scrubbing system, purified, compressed, and pumped via an existing pipeline to an old oil field. The big question is whether the increased production pays for the CO2 scrubber, pipeline, and pumping costs. Usually it does not, which is why we don’t use this technique. This particular example may be profitable due to the use of an existing pipeline and relatively close proximity of the well to the source of the CO2. It takes a lot of CO2 to do this, and a lot of electricity goes into the energy to capture it, purify it (can’t have any water in it or the pipeline will rust out), compress it, and pump it.

Russell Mitchell
Reply to  Loren Wilson
November 19, 2018 12:43 pm

Thanks, Loren.

Bruce Cobb
November 19, 2018 8:01 am

Um, how about no? Beware Greenie carbonophobes who want to “green up” coal. They want to make coal expensive, so that uneconomic Unreliables will look good by comparison.

Thomas Homer
November 19, 2018 8:11 am

Imagine if we could find and use a fuel source that would feed life as an unintended consequence.

CO2 feeds life.

Marlo Lewis
Reply to  David Middleton
November 19, 2018 10:16 am

David, EOR may be a great way to increase oil production, but is CCS+EOR a great way to curb CO2 emissions? The Department of Energy seems to assume it is. But that’s far from clear. When the recovered oil is consumed, it releases CO2. The math suggests that CCS+EOR emits more CO2 than a conventional coal power plant.

According to EPA data, consuming one barrel of oil emits, on average, 0.43 metric tons of CO2 (https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gases-equivalencies-calculator-calculations-and-references). Per your calculation, capture of 10%-15% of 8 billion tons of CO2 per year from U.S. coal power plants would recover 88.7 billion barrels in 30 years. Let’s give CCS the benefit of the doubt and assume it would sequester 15% of 8 billion tons every year for 30 years, or 36 billion tons. If that produces 88.7 billion barrels, the recovered oil would emit 38.1 billion tons of CO2. In other words, there would be a net emissions increase of 2.1 billion tons.

Other data suggest somewhat larger net emission increases.

In a 2011 report, DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) estimated that injecting 20 billion tons of CO2 underground for EOR would increase U.S. oil production by 67 billion barrels (https://www.netl.doe.gov/File%20Library/Research/Energy%20Analysis/Publications/DOE-NETL-2011-1504-NextGen_CO2_EOR_06142011.pdf). Plugging EPA’s conversion factor (0.43 tons CO2 per barrel of oil), injecting 20 billion metric tons of CO2 produces 67 billion barrels of oil. When consumed, those barrels emit 28.81 billion metric tons of CO2. In other words, CCS+EOR emits 1.41 tons of CO2 for every ton injected underground.

NETL’s 2017 EOR Primer reports that flooding Montana’s Elm Coulee and Cedar Creek oil fields with CO2 from a nearby coal plan would recover 666 million barrels of incremental oil and store 109 million metric tons of CO2 (https://www.netl.doe.gov/File%20Library/Research/Oil-Gas/publications/brochures/CO2-EOR-Primer-2017.pdf). Those numbers suggest that CCS+EOR emits 2.6 tons of CO2 for every ton stored underground.

Pierre Charles
Reply to  Marlo Lewis
November 19, 2018 1:29 pm


At peak coal use in the US (2011) the emissions were about 2 billion tons CO2 from coal power. Latest EIA AEO pegs it about 1.3bn tons.

Some of the ‘reduction” math is predicated on displacing uncontrolled coal plant emissions by the CCS plant, and getting a ‘credit’

Marlo Lewis
Reply to  Pierre Charles
November 19, 2018 4:58 pm

Thanks Charles. My point though is that in the foreseeable future, CCS will be prohibitively expensive without an EOR market for the captured CO2. The Office of Fossil Fuel’s promotional materials quoted by David above do not discuss what happens when the recovered oil is used. Obviously, CO2 emissions are released. How many tons are released per tons of oil injected into the ground? The NETL data suggest that when CCS and EOR are combined, more CO2 is released from oil combustion than is injected underground to recover that oil.

Marlo Lewis
Reply to  David Middleton
November 20, 2018 3:21 pm

Yes, David, blackboard economics predicts that EOR simply displaces more costly conventional (or fracked) oil that would otherwise be produced elsewhere. However, actually production decisions are not so finely calibrated. In 2014-2017, the Saudis opened the spigots, expecting U.S. frackers would either have to cut back their production or go bankrupt. Some frackers did go broke but others became more efficient and global production continued to rise. Rising Saudi production did not induce offsetting cutbacks in U.S. production. The long-term volatility of oil prices also suggests producers’ demand projections are not accurate enough to ensure EOR “backs out” other oil on a barrel-for-barrel basis.

November 19, 2018 8:23 am

Great stuff.

Matthew Schilling
November 19, 2018 8:27 am

Excellent! We cannot cede the field to hysterical anti-technology Luddites.
Also, the company Arq seems to be making a great contribution to making coal more palatable: https://im-mining.com/2017/11/28/arq-making-real-progress-coal-waste-oil/
Further, work done by the three people awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry ought to greatly improve the Fischer-Topsch process for creating liquid fuels from coal. It’s been well over a decade – high time for breakthroughs in the lab to lead to improvements on the plant floor: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060414014526.htm

Reply to  Matthew Schilling
November 19, 2018 9:54 am

“Arq seems to be making a great contribution to making coal more palatable”

Personally, I do not think making coal palatable is going to work. I have tried several different varieties, including some high sulfur coals. The best I can say is that the high sulfur coals have an “interesting” flavor, and are not a favorite with my dinner guests. Also, no matter how you cook it, coal always seems to come out just gritty, almost like dirt.

Coal to Liquids (CTL) seems to work best when:
A) coal is abundant, and
B) you have no other options for liquid fuels.

If you can change these two facts of life, then yes, you really do have something.
Arq has an interesting idea, using the coal directly as a booster for liquid fuels.

November 19, 2018 8:28 am

As long as we give in to the theory of AGW with such statements as “Near-zero emissions, with options to consider plant designs that inherently emit no or low amounts of carbon dioxide (amounts that are equal to or lower than natural gas technologies) or could be retrofitted with carbon capture without significant plant modifications” we have lost the battle, and the war.

Steve Reddish
Reply to  markl
November 19, 2018 8:46 am

Agreed! Instead of offering to make coal a low emitter of CO2, we should be making the case for increased CO2 emissions.

At least make the case that CO2 emissions do not matter, and that low cost electricity does.


Steve Reddish
Reply to  markl
November 19, 2018 8:54 am

I should have said “CO2 emission do no harm”, since increased greening does indeed matter.


Reply to  markl
November 19, 2018 9:33 am

When they say ‘zero emissions’ they simply mean that all the ‘harmful emissions’ have been captured. There are several expensive and energy intensive methods to capture whatever emissions are desired. The unasked and unanswered question is what shall we do with the captured emissions?
As I have stated in previous comments, that when there is a profitable enough market for the captured CO2 it will be sold.

Steve Reddish
Reply to  Rocketscientist
November 19, 2018 10:00 am

” There are several expensive and energy intensive methods to capture whatever emissions are desired.”….And unnecessary.

When any industry needs an abundant source of CO2, they know where to go. Until then, why burden coal powered electricity plants?


Bruce Cobb
November 19, 2018 8:36 am

“Deployment of new coal plants will require a different way of thinking.”
That’s just Green-speak for “we need to make coal more expensive, and as a backup for uneconomic Unreliables”. Just get rid of the uneconomic unreliables. Problem solved.

Carl Friis-Hansen
November 19, 2018 8:38 am

What is strange to me, is that the above article make no mention of tackling real pollution, like sod and sulfur. Is that because modern coal fired plant only produce minute amounts today, or is it because reducing plant food contribution (CO2) may increase world population?

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
November 19, 2018 8:46 am

Please ignore “reducing”.
I have to read my own statements before posting 🙁

Leo Smith
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
November 19, 2018 10:01 am

I think that given enough limestone scrubbing sulphur is pretty good and pretty standard practice in new coal plant – in the west anyway.

Not sure what ‘sod’ is – never heard that term in connection with pollution.

Tasfay Martinov
Reply to  Leo Smith
November 19, 2018 10:37 am

I guess it was meant be “soot”?

Reply to  Leo Smith
November 19, 2018 10:42 am

I know a number of farmers who will disagree as to whether “sod” is a pollutant.
Of course I wouldn’t want it in my dinner, but the plants seem to like the stuff.

November 19, 2018 8:55 am

One small problem with David’s rosy projection – who is going to buy this power? Corporate America is not, they are moving towards 100% renewable. They won’t be signing PPAs with coal fired plants. States like CA, OR, WA, NY and others won’t buy it. And given those facts, which utilities are going to commit to a 40 year plant, when demand for that is going to decline? Answer – almost none.

Steve Reddish
Reply to  Chris
November 19, 2018 9:20 am

Chris, you didn’t read that windmills require burning coal (because renewables can’t produce the required levels of power) during production of the steel incorporated into windmills?

How much steel is produced in the 4 states you listed? If those 4 states intend to erect more wind farms so they can go to 100% renewable energy, they will be subsidizing steel production in other states. (Not that I think they can achieve that goal, just that they intend to try.)

Likewise, those 4 states will be needing to buy electricity from other states in order to charge all the EVs they are mandating.

I don’t think you have thought through the ramifications of moving to 100% renewable.


Reply to  Steve Reddish
November 19, 2018 9:40 am

There is a bit of a disconnect between metallurgical coal and energy producing coal. Metallurgical coal is not used to produce energy. It actually requires a substantial amount of heat to bake the coal into coke which is then burned with iron ore to make steel. The heat from that is not used for electrical energy production.
So we will need both types of coal just to make steel.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
November 19, 2018 9:53 am

Of course. I was speaking in respect to the coal powered electrical plants which are the subject of the thread.


John Endicott
Reply to  Steve Reddish
November 19, 2018 9:49 am

I don’t think you have thought through the ramifications of moving to 100% renewable.

Actually, Steve, I’d suggest that it’s those 4 states (and any other government entities that wish to follow their example) that have not thought through the ramifications of moving to 100% renewable

Reply to  Steve Reddish
November 19, 2018 11:48 pm

SR – the topic was coal fired power plants. So why do you bring up steel manufacturing? 93% of US coal consumption is used for electricity generation. 2.4% is used for making steel. There may be some renewable energy advocates that will complain about coal used for steel production, but I am not one of them. I’m focused on the 93%, not the 2.4%. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.php?page=coal_use

Reply to  David Middleton
November 19, 2018 10:47 am

When exactly did Apple and Google become all of “corporate America”?

Reply to  MarkW
November 20, 2018 9:01 am

MarkW said: “When exactly did Apple and Google become all of “corporate America”?”

It took me 10 seconds to find this list, which is growing on a monthly if not weekly basis. The last time I checked, Bank of America, Coca Cola and Walmart are not Apple and Google. http://there100.org/companies

Gary Grubbs
Reply to  David Middleton
November 19, 2018 4:57 pm

David, Shhhhh. You are not supposed to burst the bubble of the virtuous people that have signed agreements for green energy and paid a high price to signal their virtue. Those green bundles of energy can be easily identified by their green color. 🙂

Reply to  David Middleton
November 20, 2018 8:56 am

David said: “No one gets to select their electricity source from the grid. All of the electricity generated by nuclear, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric, solar, wind, geothermal, etc. go into the same grid. Unless “corporate America” goes off the grid, they have no say whatsoever in where there electricity originates.”

So David’s big refutation is that because the high voltage interconnects are shared by the various feed-ins ( coal/gas/hydro power plants, wind turbines, solar, etc), corporate America has no say in where the electricity originates. First off, it’s a fairly nonsensical argument because utilities have shared the interconnects for decades. That certainly hasn’t stopped companies from buying electricity from specific utilities, even if the utilities happen to share the interconnect – this has gone on for decades, long before renewable energy became a factor. And if Apple has a contract with a power provider, the money they pay goes to that power provider – not to anyone else. And a portion of that money will be paid by the power for access to the interconnect, which is a shared service.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Chris
November 19, 2018 10:04 am

Oh dear. 100% renewable

I guess the windmill and solar panel companies will buy it and re badge it as ‘renewable’ to cover the fact that they cant produce 100% renewable energy.

Without letting their customers down.

mike the morlock
Reply to  Chris
November 19, 2018 10:44 am

Hello Chris, how are you today warm toasty comfortable?
Open the link below and find the total demand for the U.S. for Nov 1 2018


now look at todays power demand


Renewables can’t do that.
Without fossil fuels people would be freezing today.


Reply to  Chris
November 19, 2018 10:45 am

You buy kool-aid by the barrel don’t you.
A small number of companies have put out press releases regarding powering their headquarters with “renewables”. The problem is, press releases don’t power anything and neither do renewables.

BTW, people with functioning brains watch what companies do, not what they say they are going to do.

Reply to  Chris
November 19, 2018 1:14 pm

Hmmmm…commitments made as part of greemail won’t hold up.
As rural America – and real environmentalists wake up to the damage climate obsessed policies do to wildscapes and the environment, and urban consumers and industry pay the ridiculous high prices of faux green power, there will be huge pushback.
Think of Pielke’s iron law on steroids.

Reply to  hunter
November 20, 2018 9:04 am

“As rural America – and real environmentalists wake up to the damage climate obsessed policies do to wildscapes and the environment, and urban consumers and industry pay the ridiculous high prices of faux green power, there will be huge pushback.”

Rubbish – there is far more pushback over thousands of fracking wells dotting the landscape of Colorado, Pennsylvania and other states than there is over wind turbines or solar farms.

Reply to  Chris
November 20, 2018 9:45 am

Really? Living here in PA I can tell you that is a crock. The ballyhooed disasters that fracing was going to cause all turned out to be lies and we know. How? We see it every day. Keep telling yourself whatever gets you through the night, we will keep laughing at you as our energy prices keep going down and our prosperity continues.

Reply to  Chris
November 21, 2018 8:29 am

Ahh, thats so cute, you don’t read what you post links to. Bless your little heart, sweety. Here in PA we love fracing, lower gas prices and prosperity. Suck on that awhile. Now I am gonna go throw some more coal on the fire. Why? Because it makes you cry.

Reply to  2hotel9
November 22, 2018 8:05 am

And 2hotel9 comes back with a childish, lightweight IQ-free answer. Exactly what I expect from you.

Reply to  Chris
November 22, 2018 12:43 pm

All you have ever earned is ridicule and derision, and it is all you will ever get.

Komrade Kuma
November 19, 2018 9:04 am

Its off topic I know but I just read through an article on the BBC web site basically touting the need for more ‘sexed up’, ‘faked’ visual images to promote CAGWarmist alarmism.


There is no objectivity at all in the article rather it is almost evangelical in its anything goes to support ‘the cause’.

Reply to  Komrade Kuma
November 19, 2018 1:37 pm

Komrade Kuma

What a fantastic concept!!!

Did you visit the website? https://www.climatevisuals.org

How about we turn it round 180 degrees and show photographs of everything positive fossil fuels have done for the world.

The list is endless and dramatic.

And I have just done a search. Finding a single article via Duck Duck Go on the positives of fossil fuels, never mind images is very difficult, in fact I couldn’t find any on the first few pages of my search.

November 19, 2018 9:20 am

Coal to Liquid technology would allow the US to become the dominant energy producer in the world for the next 100+ years. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal. This demonization of coal and CO2 is such a counterproductive obstacle to energy and national security. We are building wind farms and either directly or indirectly funneling countless dollars to our enemies and terrorists. Coal to liquid production would crush the Russian and Iranian economies, create countless jobs, moderate inflation, and increase our security.

Reply to  David Middleton
November 19, 2018 2:12 pm

David Middleton

The Saudi’s aint daft. They have been divesting their funds from oil for decades, Much of it into the London property markets, amongst many other high value schemes.

However, the rise of Islamic terrorism seems to be consistent with the success of Saudi oil. In the 70’s I’m not sure I was even aware of the Muslim faith.

I hope that was sensitively expressed. No bigoted undercurrents intended.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  CO2isLife
November 19, 2018 11:58 am

Maybe if oil gets to $200/bbl it might make sense.

November 19, 2018 9:41 am

Two Elks project in Wyoming paid our senator’s son well. Always have the government in R&D. How else can you get the wind and solar scam and who else is going to support pet projects and congressmen’s offspring. Did I mention Two Elks failed and the money was lost….

And by all means, support a scam that causes massive damage to the environment. Help wind and solar destroy the place. Way to go.

Rud Istvan
November 19, 2018 10:17 am

CCS aside, this is a very difficult technical challenge. HeLe coal is most efficient at larger scales about 1000MW, as are all the associated ancillaries like scrubbers. The only present conceptual way to get ‘high efficiency’ modularity without all the ancillary scale problems is coal gassification extracting the pollutants before combustion) then using the syngas fo fire a CCGT. There is one such plant, Edwardsport IN run by Duke and using dirty local coal. Duke named the process integrated gassification combined cycle. Just three problems. 1. Gassifier reliability is so poor the plant runs natural gas when the gassifiers are down. 2. VERY expensive. Went a $billion over a budget that itself was 2x equivalent natgas CCGT. Came in at ~$5000/Kw, when natgas CCGT runs about $1500/ KW. 3 even with 2 large 400MW CCGT units, palnt is gross 800 MW but net only 600 thanks to gassifier parasitic loads. With CCGT at 60% thermal efficiency, Edwardsport nets only 45%. Making the turbines and gassifiers smaller makes the net efficiency worse.
Wrote up Edwardsport as partnof essay Clean Coal in ebook Blowing Smoke.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 19, 2018 11:27 am

Wish You were Here more Rud with your excellent observations and facts on every subject regarding all this climate science. Your presence here really brings a bedrock of stability to the skeptical position and keeps all of us here honest. Just recently bought your ebook Blowing Smoke and is a great source of info. I hope you are planing on an update or second edition for 2019 that can be had freely for buying the First Edition. For $8, you can’t go wrong. Same for the eBook, Climate Change: The Facts 2017 with a chapter by Anthony. Since they are editions for reading on a Kindle etc, adding a chapter and/or a second edition with updated facts to 2019 would be great for us who have already purchased and would feel we are all up to date with the latest. I haven’t read both yet in entirety, but I have all winter booked in tropical destinations to read my Kindle and a hammock by the ocean with my name on it. P.S. David M…you should edit all your posts together from a geological perspective along with all your fancy graphs into an eBook, and I will buy that as well.

Gary Grubbs
Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 19, 2018 5:16 pm

Rud, I would like to challenge you a bit on your observations. I worked on the study that was the prototype to the Edwardsport plant. It is basically the first of its kind of the scale that could be economically feasible. Setbacks etc would be expected as the bugs are worked out of the technology. There were many systems that were scaled up from some earlier designs that resulted in some of the problems they are having.

The biggest issue was the price of natural gas fell just as the plant was being built. This price drop was not anticipated during the study phase. The DOE was anxious to get the next generation of IGCCs on line since they were developed as part of the Clean Coal Technology program that was conducted in the mid 90s.

Tampa Electric is the owner and operator of the the only IGCC plant remaining from the CCT program. It is considered the first commercial scale IGCC. Link below for the plant information.


Lessons learned from the Tampa Electric Plant were implemented in the Edwardsport design.

You stated that Duke Energy named the cycle Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle. That is not correct, that term has been around for many years.

Robert of Texas
November 19, 2018 10:44 am

I think people may be missing an important point of developing this clean coal technology – it is for export.

Sensible people recognize that the developing world is going to use coal for energy. If we can develop a cleaner technology for burning coal that can compete (greater efficiency), then lots of new coal plants might be built using a cleaner technology – thus fewer REAL pollutants in the atmosphere. This is a win-win for everyone, except the alarmists who want fossil fuels to go away and be replaced by rainbow unicorns pulling recycled-wood wagons (or something, I have never really figured out what their real plans are).

November 19, 2018 10:53 am

Lets turn the CO2 in combusted coal exhaust into money and jobs.
Petra Nova is taking a slip stream of 240 MW from the power plants 654 MW production. Why not all of it?
Taking over 90% of the CO2 out of the full exhaust flow will make coal power plants operating with less CO2 going into the atmosphere than what a natural gas power plant emits.
And there is more that can be recovered from the exhaust. The heat energy which will then give water. There are other particulates that can be removed and sold. The ash can be used for quite a number of purposes or be cleaned and used as fire retardant. It won’t burn again.
Waste is not waste if it has a purpose.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Sid Abma
November 19, 2018 12:01 pm

CO2 already has plenty of purpose, and without spending a penny – plants love it. They gobble it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And snacks.

November 19, 2018 10:55 am

The average US coal plant was built in the 1960’s using relatively low efficiency pressures and temperatures. The newest ultra-supercritical coal steam plants have 40% higher efficiency than their 1960’s grandfathers. If the US converted the vintage fleet to modern standards, we would see a 40% drop in total pollution. A 40% drop in the creation of coal ash. The largest single pollution reduction action in history.

Gary Grubbs
Reply to  William
November 19, 2018 4:51 pm

Your statement is mostly true with one exception. CO2. As long as CO2 is listed as a pollutant coal cannot be viable. The energy required to capture, compress and transport CO2 would take a huge portion of that 40% efficiency increase and may even eliminate it.

michael hart
November 19, 2018 11:10 am

I’d like to see a bit more effort from the coal industry (and related industries) to show that they really are supporting people like Anthony. I.e. money. People like Anthony do a lot of support work for no financial gain, despite receiving all the hate-mail and accusations that they do so.

Yes, of course a legitimate industry shouldn’t have to pay money to justify its very existence, but the industry knows they have been under political attack now for several decades. They have a lot of natural supporters they are not doing much to encourage.

Mike Lowe
November 19, 2018 11:17 am

I am rather concerned at that list of “traits” attached to this research intention. By attaching those, isn’t the DOE doing precisely that which we criticise the alarmists for doing – narrowing down in order to eliminate that of which we do not approve. Why “smaller plants”, when those doing the planning of this research may well decide that larger plants are more suitable? Removing CO2, when any sensible research should evaluate the benefits to society of improved harvests and forests? I suppose this is all intended to provide less of a target for those who will oppose coal in favour of solar / wind, but it does seem to provide ammunition for those who claim we skeptics believe at least some of their nonsense.

November 19, 2018 12:12 pm

Did I miss something? Has someone finally proven CO2 is a problem?

About those billions and billions and billions of sequestered CO2 well that sounds mighty impressive. But but doesn’t natural CO2 kinda make man’s production a none issue?

Global Cooling
November 19, 2018 12:33 pm

Creation of synthetic natural gas is near in these “inject CO2 into depths” schemes. Sabatier reaction requires CO2, H2 , 400 C and catalysts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabatier_reaction.

You can recycle CO2 back to hydrocarbons with added energy. Then you release energy from hydrocarbons as we do now. Of course pumping oil from a good well is still cheaper.

November 19, 2018 2:49 pm

While we of the WUWT site are aware that CO2 is a good and much needed gas we should accept that a lot of good people including my own daughter have been brainwashed by the massive properganda coming from Green groups and of course the UN IPCCC.

But th real culprit is the Media. With very few exceptions the Media does not want good news stories, they are of the oponion , and perhaps they are right that bad news, the worst the better, is what sells the papers.

Some people may think that the function of a newspaper is to sell us the news, wrong. Its to sell advertising, and they the ones who pay for the adverts are only concerned with how many copies of the paper are sold.

Its the same as the film, industry, they are only concerned with the “Bumbs on seats” and not really with pleasing us, that.s s a by product.

The lurid and colourful covers of books are the same, they are saying “Pick me up and buy me”

We have to convince the Media that a sufficient number of people are interested in buying a paper which tells the truth, sadly just like with the politicians , truth is in very short supply.


Neil Jordan
Reply to  Michael
November 20, 2018 9:08 am

Mark Twain allegedly noted that truth is so precious that they use very little of it.

November 19, 2018 2:54 pm

The coal and power industries make plenty of profit, they can afford to do their own research.

At least this research will benefit everyone, unlike most climate studies.

November 19, 2018 2:57 pm

***** The key is marketing and fake news *****
I suggest a massive propaganda effort to convince liberal arts majors that coal can be burnt without producing CO2.

This represents a major scientific advance (why didn’t scientists think of it before?). The fact that it has no basis in chemistry or thermodynamics is irrelevant because it is fake news anyway. Nevertheless it will will deflect attention away from CO2 and give the UN, the Left and a load of galactically thick greenies something else to worry about.

What’s not to like?

Global Cooling
Reply to  RCS
November 19, 2018 9:13 pm

Just call hydrocarbons organic fuels. Fossil fuel is not selling well.

November 19, 2018 4:11 pm

Re.the CO2, why not simply re-classify it as a useful chemical. We are a carbon based life form, and carbon is the number one chemical in just about all other substances.

For example here in Australia there was a proposal to extract the CO2 from the power station, then use it to grow Algie, which loves the stuff. From time to time this substance was harvested and it has many uses including turning it into fuel, which of course did not please the Greenies.

We know that it is not a pollutant whereas many chemicals we use all the time are, so lets go along with this nonsense and simply re-classify it as a useful chemical substance.


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