Should we support Stop Gap coal energy initiatives?

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Moderator: Sol Shapiro

Should we support Stop Gap coal energy initiatives?

Postby Sol Shapiro » Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:06 pm

BRIDGE ISSUES TO OUR SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FUTURE

As I observe activity surrounding our transition to a sustainable energy future, plans exist for where we should be in 10, 20, 50 years and more. I do not, in every case see adequate definition of the criticality of time frames. The difficult area for time frames is the transportation energy sector. The electric grid will find its way as suggested below.

* In the electric generation sector, I see, as primary resources wind, solar in pv and CPV augmented by undefined storage technology and CST and geothermal as the primary near term solutions which can become the backbone of our electricity supply. I see the transition in the electric grid as having significant momentum today with RPS’s, loan guarantees and tax credits while transmission is being addressed by increased authority to the Federal government.

* The plan is no where near as clear in the transportation sector where we are struggling to free ourselves from excessive dependence on fuel from potentially unfriendly places. In this area our plan is to improve efficiency, develop batteries, create liquid fuels from bio-sources and perhaps use renewables generated hydrogen or renewables generated liquid fuels. All of these processes have uncertain time frames. WHAT WE NEED HERE IS A BRIDGE TO SUSTAIN US TODAY WHILE THESE TECHNOLOGIES SORT THEMSELVES OUT.

* THE BRIDGE – Drill responsibly could yield one to two million barrels per day in a decade; use coal-to-liquid for one million barrels per day in a decade. Efficiency should get us one million barrels per day in a decade and biofuels another million barrels per day. Review the status every two years on how the clean technologies are doing and decide where to put emphasis; more drilling? More coal-to-liquid? Other?
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Re: Should we support Stop Gap energy initiatives?

Postby Probir Ghosh » Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:08 pm

I know Germany did have processes during world war II using I believe Fisher Trophe process and I believe China has jumped into the fray. My understanding is South Africa has some more refined processes. But there are critics who say it has a larger carbon footprint than regular coal burning: http://www.celsias.com/article/china-to ... nt-within/ . Can you educate us on what specific technologies are there after giving a brief description on what you think are the best available technologies. Also can you score on the matrix shown on page 21 of the invVEST Strategy document and share it with the experts in your area to see if they agree? This is not my area of expertise.
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Re: Should we support Stop Gap coal energy initiatives?

Postby Sol Shapiro » Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:23 pm

It is just such uncertainties that are behind my belief that we need to provide support for today’s transportation fuel technologies while we gain experience in the “new energy” world. e.g., we should provide loan guarantees and a guaranteed market for the first million barrels per day of coal-to-liquid; and review status every two years. If need be, we can expand coal-to-liquid, but if there is success in the “new energy” arena, we do not extend these supports. Is that not logical?
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Re: Should we support Stop Gap coal energy initiatives?

Postby Dr. Mitul Sarkar » Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:24 pm

Thanks, Sol. How much is the energy expended in transforming coal to liquid, and how does that impact on the energy efficiency of liquid fuel from coal?

Along the thoughts of (not) putting too many eggs in the lithium basket…
How about compressed natural gas? I wonder if compressed methane (+other gases?) from landfills, hog farms, etc may be used to power transportation vehicles?
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Re: Should we support Stop Gap coal energy initiatives?

Postby Sol Shapiro » Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:29 pm

Coal-to-liquid: Germany made most of aviation fuel in WW2 using Fischer-Tropsch; South Africa, as a holdover from their apartheid era when they were worried about being squeezed out of the world oil market is today making about 150,000 barrels per day from coal. It can be made for about $60 per barrel; requires a major capital investment of about $100,000 per barrel per day. It puts out about twice the CO2 as as crude “well to wheels” in its direct production (note that this is 0.4% of the world’s CO2 emissions per million barrels per day!) There are at least 2 major projects trying to move forward in the U.S. Baard Energy is one in Wellsville, Ohio seeking to produce 50,000 barrels per day, co-firing with biomass and capturing CO2 for secondary oil recovery. Baard is seeking $2.3 billion loan guarantee because this is a first of a kind facility in the U.S. The environmental community, acting in a single minded way is trying to prevent this support. The other program is one in Natchez, Mississipi planning 30,000 barrels per day with Rentech as its principal. Moving this activity forward would be a major help in building the “bridge” toward domestic transportation fuel from today’s oil dependence on foreign sources to a future WHEN the renewables and battery world prove that they are ready to become major players.
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Re: Should we support Stop Gap coal energy initiatives?

Postby Probir Ghosh » Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:30 pm

My undertanding is South Africa has some pretty advanced plants, but I think Sol should be a better person to comment as this is an area he has focused on.
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Re: Should we support Stop Gap coal energy initiatives?

Postby Sol Shapiro » Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:32 pm

Response to Probir:
I don’t have any details on South Africa; and my best guess is that their technology is not the latest. Companies like Rentech offer that; but the basic concept of Fischer-Tropsch is what we should be aware of. Given a desire for increasing domestic transportation fuel in the short run, use of coal-to-liquid should be a no-brainer which can have a significant assured impact on the fuel import issue.
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