As a Southern California Edison customer and a hydrogen car advocate, it’s exciting for me when my local power company steps up to the plate and becomes the first utility in the nation to study the feasibility of commercial clean coal technology.
So. Cal. Edison is proposing regulatory approval from the state of California to conduct a feasibility study for using clean coal to produce hydrogen. The clean coal technology targeted would capture 90-percent of the carbon using local coal resources.
Hydrogen captured from the coal would then be burned in high-efficiency, combined-cycle generating systems, producing electricity. The project is being called the Clean Hydrogen Power Generation (CHPG) initiative.
Depleted carbon could be sequestered either by pumping it into deep wells or storing it in a type of saline solution. The goal is to test the feasibility of building a 600 megawatt facility that will greatly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases compared to other coal-burning electrical generation facilities.
The Edison clean coal project is aligned with the U. S. Department of Energy’s FutureGen initiative put forward by President Bush in 2003. FutureGen is geared toward building real world prototypes as demonstration projects for clean coal technology and is currently deciding between Texas and Illinois for its first non-commercial clean coal plant. China and India have also signed agreements under the FutureGen initiative.
Other players in the worldwide clean coal marketplace include Scottish Power in the UK, BP and Rio Tinto in Western Australia and EPCOR Utilities near Edmonton, Alberta Canada. In the U. S., it has been estimated that we have another 250 years of coal reserves at our disposal. If we can learn to use the resource cleanly, we will not only be able to reduce emissions but also reduce dependence upon foreign fossil fuel as well. This will at least buy us some time to develop other renewable energy resources that will eventually sustain this nation.