Mining isn’t just digging minerals from the ground. Mining has expanded to designing ways to use that resource. Coal mining has taken the lead in finding ways to use this natural resource to make energy generation safer, cheaper and cleaner. There are enough coal deposits in America to keep the lights on for hundreds of years into the future.
Clean coal technologies are moving now from testing laboratories and into the field for practical use.
Coal is used to generate more than 50% of the energy in the United States. In another decade, modern mining technology will make coal into liquid fuel or hydrogen to power vehicles and heat homes. The coal mining industry is on the verge of building power generation plants that will produce zero emissions coal-fired plants. The United States has 275 billion tons of coal in recoverable reserves that can fuel the country’s needs for 200 years.
Electricity fuels economic growth. Low-cost electricity creates prosperity and a better way of life.
One example of modern mining technology at work is FutureGen 2.0. This is the first oxy-combustion plant that will provide power while emitting nearly zero emissions.
Dr. Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, has praised this new technology as a source to open up a $300 billion market for the clean burning of coal. This will “position the country as a leader in an important part of the global clean energy economy,” Chu said.
The 200 megawatt unit with its advanced oxy-combustion clean energy technology can capture 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is more than 90 percent of this unit’s emissions. Other emissions will be near zero. This is the cleanest coal-burning plant in the world.
The oxy-combustion plant is able to deliver this efficiency because it burns coal along with a mixture of carbon dioxide and oxygen instead of air, while it captures the carbon dioxide for safe storage.
This new, clean combustion technology that releases nearly no emissions eliminates mercury, sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide. Studies by the Office of Fossil Energy Technology Laboratory have identified the oxy-combustion technology as the most cost effective way to address coal-fired plants and store carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide will be stored near the plant in Illinois.
This test project of this new oxy-combustion technology will provide emissions and performance data to build new power generating plants across the country and around the world. It has the potential to provide clean and cheap energy to meet the world’s needs for generations.