Moniz: Carbon Capture Technology Needed as Coal Projected to Continue to Have Role

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By Ari Natter  


WASHINGTON, D.C.--Coal and other fossil fuels will be “a major part of our energy future for decades,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said July 29 during a speech in which he said research on the development of clean coal technologies is needed to combat climate change.

“No discussion of U.S. energy security and reducing global CO2 emissions is complete without talking about coal--and the technologies that will allow us to use this resource more efficiently and with fewer greenhouse gas emissions,” Moniz said, according to excerpts of prepared remarks made available by the Energy Department.

Moniz's comments were provided in advance of a visit to the Energy Department's National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, W. Va., which conducts research on “pre-commercial” energy technologies, including those related to carbon capture, according to the lab's website.

As part of a broad plan to combat climate change laid out by President Obama in June, the administration announced July 1 it is offering up to $8 billion in Energy Department loan guarantees for carbon capture and other environmentally friendly fossil energy projects (127 ECR, 7/2/13).

“Any serious effort to protect our kids from the worst effects of climate change must also include developing, demonstrating, and deploying the technologies to use our abundant fossil fuel resources as cleanly as possible,” Moniz said during his tour of the lab, according to his prepared remarks.

Coal and other fossil fuels provide 80 percent of the country's energy and 70 percent of its electricity, according to Moniz.

Moniz, who previously served as head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's energy initiative before being confirmed to his current position in May, has long been a proponent of carbon capture and storage technologies.

However, critics have questioned the viability of using the technology on a commercial scale, and a government report released in April said the Energy Department's flagship FutureGen 2.0 demonstration project will likely have difficulty meeting a 2015 deadline when $1 billion in federal stimulus funding expires (70 ECR, 4/11/13).

The project is backed by a nonprofit organization made up of coal mining and electric power companies that include Alpha Natural Resources Inc., the biggest U.S. supplier of metallurgical coal, and mining equipment manufacturer Joy Global Inc.