We will also carry out some “benchmarking” studies to see how some potentially strong competitors to gasification energy would compare with regard to performance and cost in mitigating climate change:

  • Although there is consensus that gasification-based coal power systems are preferred to combustion-based coal power systems with CCS for bituminous coals, it is unclear whether this advantage will extend to low-rank coals. For electricity systems, side-by-side techno-economic comparison will be made of gasification and supercritical steam-electric plants with CCS (both stack-gas scrubber and oxy-fuel options) based on low-rank coals. In making these comparisons, gasification electricity production via both stand-alone and polygeneration plants will be considered. These comparisons might involve putting combustion system analyses of others into a self-consistent analytical framework for comparison with the gasification systems that we will analyze in full. This analysis will be led by Kreutz.
  • A climate-change-mitigation policy that makes coal IGCC with CCS competitive with conventional fossil power generators will also bring other low carbon technologies into play. One such technology is a wind power system coupled to compressed energy storage (CAES). CAES is a commercially ready technology that makes it possible to transform wind power into a baseload power option. Geologies suitable for CAES seem to be reasonably well distributed in wind-rich regions of the United States (e.g., Great Plains) where much of the new capacity for coal power generation is being planned. A comparison will be made of costs, greenhouse gas emission rates, and the overall potential for wind/CAES to compete with coal IGCC with CCS power systems. The emphasis will be on wind/CAES systems in which the wind/CAES unit is fired with natural gas. Regions where the competition with coal IGCC with CCS can be expected to be significant will be indentified. This analysis will be led by Samir Succar and Williams in collaboration with Jeff Greenblatt, who is now at Environmental Defense.
  • Our work to date aimed at realizing deep reductions in GHG emissions for transportation fuels has focused on two alternative strategies: (i) H2 from coal with CCS for use in fuel cell or hybrid-electric vehicles, and (ii) synthetic liquid fuels (F-T liquids/DME) from coal with CCS + increased production of hydrocarbon fuels via CO2–EOR using CO2 generated from gasification energy systems + offsetting negative CO2 emissions from biomass gasification energy systems with CCS (biomass coprocessed with coal or converted in stand-alone biomass systems).

    The all-electric car is an alternative that would make it feasible to reduce liquid fuel challenges altogether and reduce underground CO2 storage requirements (e.g., if wind/CAES units could provide a significant share of the needed electricity). Although all-electric cars have fallen out of favor, battery technology continues to evolve. We will revisit this option along with plug-in hybrids (which might reduce liquid fuel requirements to levels corresponding to 200 mpg) and make a systematic comparison of technical performance, CO2 storage requirements, and costs for these options considered side-by-side with updated variants of automotive options we have considered in the past. Kreutz will lead this activity.