Clean Coal Creates Emerging Job Market

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Clean coal technologies and CCS set to ignite careers across the US

America’s most abundant resource for generating affordable electricity, the coal industry is revolutionizing the job industry in the US, as well.

Developing technologies are changing the coal-generated power landscape. Through clean coal technologies, scientists and energy experts are working to reduce greenhouse gases produced while generating affordable electricity from coal.

A recent report from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, BBC Research and Consulting, and leading labor and energy groups asserted that coal-generated power plants and clean coal technology could create “millions of high-skilled, high-wage American jobs.”

In the 30-state study, the “Employment and Other Economic Benefits from Advanced Coal Electric Generation with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Technologies” report revealed that up to 7 million job-years of employment are set to be created in the US due to the coal industry.

In fact, seven advanced coal facilities planned for Louisiana are expected to create some 190,000 job-years between now and 2025. In North Carolina, four planned CCS plants are estimated to generate 160,000 job-years in the same time frame. Wyoming is set to support an estimated 78,000 job-years between now and 2025 due to the construction of three advanced coal CCS plants. Every state included in the report was expected to reap the rewards of this new technology.

Presidential Support

The coal-based electricity industry is not working alone to develop these technologies, resources and jobs. In his push to support green energy, President Barack Obama has also supported the emergence of clean coal.

“If we can develop the technology to capture the carbon pollution released by coal, it can create jobs and provide energy well into the future,” said President Obama when establishing a task force to develop clean coal technology.

The nation is leading the world in Carbon Capture Storage research and investments to remove carbon dioxide emissions associated with power plants and refineries. In fact, the US Department of Energy has committed close to $4 billion in federal funds and private investors have proffered another $7 billion to push the advancement of Carbon Capture Storage developments within the next decade.

“The US has the ability to develop clean energy innovation here at home,” stated US Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Rather than sending billions overseas to pay for clean technologies, we should invest these dollars here – in America’s workers, industries and innovations.”

The federal task force President Obama created set out a number of recommendations to foster clean coal technology, including expertise in capturing, compressing, transporting and permanently storing power plant and industrial emissions.

Steps Taken

One example of CCS development supported by the US government, FutureGen 2.0, alongside the DOE, is leading the effort to build a CCS hub to accept carbon dioxide from various industrial sources, including power plants, for permanent storage.

Communities in Illinois have been encouraged by the FutureGen Alliance to submit proposals to be considered for the FutureGen 2.0 project, and the DOE has committed $1 billion to the project.

"Today's milestone will help ensure the U.S. remains competitive in a carbon constrained economy, creating jobs while reducing greenhouse gas pollution," said Secretary Chu of the financial commitment. "Developing innovative, cost effective carbon capture and storage technologies is critical to the country's transition to a clean energy future."

In addition to other sources, a coal-based power plant in Meredosia, Illinois, will supply CO2 to the hub. After being upgraded with advanced oxy-combustion technology to support carbon capture, the CO2 will be transported via pipeline to the hub.

The project is expected to create a thousand jobs to the community supporting FutureGen 2.0 and another thousand jobs for suppliers across Illinois.

“These facilities will create economic development, provide good-paying jobs and attract researchers and visitors from around the world,” said US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) in his support of the project.

For the most up to date and in-depth information on the Coal Generation market visit PennEnergy's comprehensive Research area to access industry focused Reports.

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