Statement of Task

The study will broadly examine coal resource assessments, technologies, and research and development (R&D) activities in the United States in order to formulate an appropriate, integrated roadmap of future needs. The results of the review should help define and construct a national strategy for coal R&D and resource assessments.

The study shall consider the following issues:

  1. Summarize recent projections of the coal use as part of the U.S. and global energy portfolios over the next 25 years, including projections that take into account the potential roles of coal in future integrated energy and environmental policies, in order to set the context for development of a more comprehensive, strategic roadmap for coal R&D and resource assessments.

  2. Describe the full range of local, regional, national, and global issues and challenges, including environmental issues that must be taken into account when considering future production and utilization of coal.

  3. Review the coal reserve assessments based on recent trends in the coal sector and examine the current and future role of coal imports and exports.

  4. Assess the categories of coal R&D currently being carried out in the United States and internationally, and investigate whether and how technology developments in other fields can be applied to the coal sector. Review how technologies are being transferred to coal mine operators and other users, recognizing differences among companies.

  5. Determine the priority coal R&D needs, including in the areas of exploration, discovery, reserve assessment (including in terms of commercial feasibility for known reserves), extraction, coal preparation, delivery to market, waste disposal, reclamation, health and safety, community impact, environmental practices, education and training, and productivity.

  6. Evaluate the need for a broad-based, coordinated, multi-agency coal research and development program. Review current coal-related research, examine what agencies are conducting it, and determine how much funding is currently being spent throughout the coal life cycle.

  7. Examine options for supporting and implementing a broad-based coal R&D program, including approximate costs, and the relative roles and commitments of the public and private sectors now and into the future.

difficulty of predicting the prices and availability of alternative energy sources for electric power generation provides additional uncertainty. Taking these factors into consideration, an assessment of forecasts for coal use indicates that over the next 10 to 15 years (until about 2020), coal production and use in the United States are projected to range from about 25 percent above to about 15 percent below 2004 levels, depending on economic conditions and environmental policies. By 2030, the range of projected coal energy use in the United States broadens considerably, from about 70 percent above to 50 percent below current levels.

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