There’s no way to save coal energy production; there are just better ways of getting the electricity we so desperately need.
However, companies are finding themselves in trouble with the new Clean Power Plan regulations. Many U.S. energy companies still rely on coal plants, which are emissions-heavy and expensive to convert into cleaner energy sources.
On the dramatic end, some companies are making plans to force that dirty, expensive energy on utilities anyway. On the more realistic end, companies are shutting down coal plants entirely.
There is, however, a third option for coal power companies to consider: fuel cells for carbon capture.
FuelCell Energy, which manufactures fuel cells and operates its own fuel cell power plants, is offering its technology to the coal industry.
You see, the company’s fuel cells put natural gas, including carbon dioxide, and air through a chemical process that produces electricity.
This means not only would coal plants with this technology be emitting less greenhouse gases into the air, but they would also have an alternate source of energy to sell.
FuelCell Energy has already tested this technology on a natural gas power plant, a smaller-scale emissions level than that of a real coal plant.
The results of this test were positive. The company now wants to find a viable power plant to run a full-scale test. The first installation will be able to capture about 58 tons of carbon dioxide and produce 40,000 kilowatt hours of energy per day.
If the first installation is successful, FuelCell has 11 more fuel cell systems planned, which together will be able to capture 700 tons of carbon dioxide and produce 648,000 kilowatt hours of energy per day.
FuelCell has already made a crucial step in making these changes a reality: the company has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy, which is offering a $15 million grant for the original $23.7 million installation.
Now, this will by no means save the coal industry. Other newer, naturally cleaner energy sources are just too cost-competitive on the market. It will take a tremendously larger technological advancement to stop the slump of coal entirely.
But this technology will at least help make the switch to clean power production more affordable and smoother for coal-reliant companies.
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Until next time,
A true insider in the technology and energy markets, Keith’s research has helped everyday investors capitalize from the rapid adoption of new technology trends and energy transitions. Keith connects with hundreds of thousands of readers as the Managing Editor of Energy & Capital, as well as the investment director of Angel Publishing’s Energy Investor and Technology and Opportunity.
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