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A National Gasification Strategy

Presenting a program to stimulate robust coal-gasification technology deployment at low federal cost.

Fortnightly Magazine - June 2005

Congress wants to pursue a national gasification program designed to help address natural gas supply and price concerns and improve energy independence and security.

A more affordable and secure energy future is at our fingertips, but it will require Congress to recognize and act on its need for greater energy independence and adopt a National Gasification Strategy that stimulates robust, near-term investment.  [ Sidebar, endnotes cont. p.72 ]

William Rosenberg is a senior fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and professor in the Deparment of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon. Previously, he served as chairman, Michigan Public Service Commission; assistant administrator for Energy Resource Development, Federal Energy Administration; and assistant administrator for Air and Radiation, EPA. Michael Walker is a consultant who has spent the past 11 years working on environmental and regulatory issues affecting the electric power industry. Dwight Alpern is an attorney advisor at the Clean Air Markets Division, EPA, and previously was an attorney at FERC and the DOE. 

Endnotes

1. More detailed descriptions of the ideas presented in this article are provided in: Rosenberg, William G., Dwight C. Alpern, Michael R. Walker, Deploying IGCC Technology in this Decade with 3Party Covenant Financing, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, May 2005 Revision; and Rosenberg, William G., Dwight C. Alpern, Michael R. Walker, National Gasification Strategy: Gasification of Coal & Biomass as a Domestic Gas Supply Option , Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, May 2005 Revision. Both papers are available at: www.ksg.harvard.edu/bcsia/enrp.

2. Wisconsin Electric Power Co., 228 PUR4th 444, 2003 WL 22663829 (Wisc. P.S.C. Nov. 10, 2003).

3. See S.726, The Natural Gas Price Reduction Act, introduced April 6, 2005; See also S.727, Tax Incentives For The Natural Gas Price Reduction Act Of 2005, introduced April 6, 2005.

4. Rosenberg, William G., Dwight C. Alpern, Michael R. Walker, Deploying IGCC Technology in this Decade with 3Party Covenant Financing, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, May 2005 Revision. (available at: www.ksg.harvard.edu/bcsia/enrp).

5. Id. at Vol. I, p. 14.


Gasification Technology

Gasification is the partial oxidation of a solid or liquid fuel feedstock to manufacture a gaseous product (synthesis gas or "syngas") made up of predominantly hydrogen (H 2) and carbon monoxide (CO). 1 Impurities, such as particulates, sulfur, nitrogen, and volatile mercury are cost-effectively removed from the syngas prior to combustion, using commercially proven systems to produce syngas that is almost as clean as natural gas. Synthesis gas has a lower heating value than natural gas, 2 but can be substituted readily in many industrial processes and in the generation of electricity with modern gas turbines. Synthesis gas also can be converted to synthetic natural gas (methane) using commercially available methanation catalysts. 3 By producing gas on site, gasification eliminates the need for additional pipeline capacity for fuel delivery.

According to a recent survey by the Gasification Technologies Council (GTC), there are 385 gasifiers in operation at 117 projects worldwide. 4 These gasifiers are used to produce liquid fuels in South Africa (Sasol facility); chemicals in the United States (Kingsport facility); electricity in the United