The higher values reflect scenarios with high oil and gas prices and no restrictions on carbon emissions. The lower values reflect scenarios with relatively strict limits on U.S. CO2 emissions, which cause coal use with sequestration to be more costly compared to other options for power generation.
At present, coal imports and exports represent small fractions of total U.S. coal production and use, and projections indicate that both imports and exports are expected to remain relatively small. From a global perspective, the largest tonnage increases in coal use are expected in the emerging economies of China and India. Much smaller tonnage growth is projected in the rest of the world, although relative growth rates are projected to be high in several other countries. Again, however, there is great uncertainty in projections of global coal use, especially beyond about 2020.
These projections provide the context for an assessment of coal-related R&D activities. A number of organizations and entities—federal government agencies, state government agencies, academic institutions, coal mining companies, and equipment manufacturers—are engaged in aspects of coal-related R&D and technology development. In this report, the primary focus is on federal government support for activities that are variously described as pure research, applied science, pilot-scale testing, technical support, demonstration projects, and applied engineering projects. For existing federal support, the committee analyzed R&D budgets in terms of the range of categories that encompass the coal fuel cycle—resource and reserve assessment; coal mining and processing; coal mining safety and health; environmental protection and reclamation; transport of coal and coal-derived products; and coal utilization.
There are numerous applied research areas, focused primarily on incremental technology development, for which federal involvement is neither appropriate nor required and where industry should and does provide support. For some areas, such as ensuring that a well-trained workforce is available to meet the nation’s mining and mining education requirements, federal involvement can effectively complement industry activities. There are other areas of coal-related R&D in which the federal government has a primary role—for example, to establish the quantity and quality of the nation’s coal reserves, to facilitate and catalyze revolutionary (rather than incremental) technology development, to safeguard the health and safety of mine workers, and to protect the environment during future mining and processing and mitigate existing environmental problems arising from past mining practices. It is also a federal responsibility to provide funding for the R&D required to support the government’s regulatory role.
More than $538 million was spent by federal government agencies for coal-related research and technology development in 2005. Of this, more than 90 percent (~$492 million) was directed towards “downstream” aspects of coal use, mostly coal utilization technology development and transmission research funded through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Federal support for R&D activities related to all upstream aspects of the coal fuel cycle (i.e., mine worker