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clean coal

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

With the Clean Power Plan out, officials in North Dakota say they are still committed to finding ways to capture carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

They’re eyeing a project under construction in Texas to build a zero-emission gas plant, a small-scale version of the Allam Cycle outside Houston that’s slated to fire up next year.

Amy Sisk / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s lignite coal industry has ambitious -- and pricey -- plans to capture carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, which industry leaders highlighted Thursday at a conference in Bismarck.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Coal state lawmakers want to make cleaning up coal more economically attractive. A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced Wednesday they are re-introducing a bill to expand tax credits for projects to capture carbon dioxide.

The coal industry faces a big problem in cleaning up emissions: cost. It’s often a barrier to moving clean coal technology out of the research stage and getting it to work on a commercial scale.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy



If the coal industry is to survive, its savior may be something often touted by President Donald Trump when he talks energy.

“We’re going to have clean coal, really clean coal,” he said earlier this year in announcing an executive order to roll back the emission-targeting Clean Power Plan.

North Dakota’s lignite coal industry is excited about a new technology that could drastically cut down on carbon dioxide emissions from coal fired power plants.

It’s called the “Allam Cycle.”

"It would allow a power plant to take coal, gasify it, oxy-fire it at very high pressure," said Mike Jones, the vice-president for research and development with the Lignite Energy Council. "By oxy-firing it, we basically would be using a super-critical stream of CO2 as a working fluid that drives the turbine."

Jones says there are a number of reasons to do this.

The Obama Administration announced final rules Monday for its plan to limit carbon emissions from U.S. power plants. While some concessions were made to critics, the final rules actually increase the carbon cuts demanded from states and will have long-lasting impacts on the way power is produced.

The White House previewed the announcement on Sunday with a video narrated by President Obama.

Otter Tail Power company customers in North Dakota will see a small increase in their electric bills.

It’s a special environmental rider – to help pay for the cost of air pollution control equipment being installed at the Big Stone Power Plant in South Dakota. The installation costs are around $400 million – and North Dakota’s share is $82.5 million. That means customers will see an average $1.47 more on their monthly bills.

'Clean coal' technology from MS to ND?

Aug 17, 2014

Representatives of Southern Company – a power producer in the southern US – are talking with power companies in North Dakota about its clean coal technology – that it’s building at a demonstration plant in Mississippi.

The plant – still under construction – will use a coal gasification technology to generate electricity. And Southern says it will capture 65 percent of the carbon emissions – which can then be used for such things as enhanced oil recovery.

'Clean coal' company to tour ND lignite facilities

Aug 4, 2014

A company that’s currently building what’s been described as a “state of the art” coal fired power plant that captures carbon emissions will be coming to North Dakota – to gauge interest in having that technology in North Dakota.

Southern Company is building that plant in Kemper County, Mississippi. North Dakota Public Service Commission chairman Brian Kalk says company representatives are coming to North Dakota next week to tour the state’s lignite mines and meet with utilities here.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is leading a bi-partisan group of Senators calling for a 120 day public comment period on new EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.

Normally, there’s a 60 day comment period.

Those regulations will be published in June, possibly as early as next week. Heitkamp says no one yet knows what’s in those regulations – but she has some major concerns.

"There's no strategy," said Heitkamp. "It just seems to be blow-by-blow, an attempt to take out coal."