Presenting a program to stimulate robust coal-gasification technology deployment at low federal cost.
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.
Near-term deployment of gasification technologies can supplement natural-gas supply, reduce demand, and promote long-term U.S. energy security and affordability. But near-term deployment must overcome high capital costs that affect commercial competitiveness and capital availability
A national gasification strategy that provides federal loan guarantees and other incentives for industrial and electricity sector investments in gasification technology can overcome these hurdles and stimulate a robust deployment. By relying on federal loan guarantees as the primary initial incentive approach, federal budget costs can be minimized while jumpstarting construction of significant capacity.
An important policy choice faces the U.S. Congress as it considers where gasification fits into U.S. energy policy. Would the national interest be best served by facilitating a limited number of prototype gasification facilities, or by boldly helping investors finance a substantial fleet of gasification projects to counter the natural gas shortfall and substitute for higher polluting direct coal-combustion facilities?