(RDD&C) programs will therefore be critical in ensuring that coal technologies meet or exceed requirements for acceptable use and that they are available for timely deployment. The present study assesses the directions of coal RDD&C strategies and priorities for the United States, with emphasis on programs funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The scope and objectives of this National Research Council study and the committee's approach to its task are further detailed below. Prior to reviewing DOE's coal programs and planning in Chapter 2, some essential background is provided in this chapter on relevant coal-related provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPACT) and on coal-related research and development (R&D) outside DOE, both in the private sector and overseas.
The major impetus for this study, EPACT, represents the culmination of several years of energy policy deliberations, prompted largely by the Bush administration's 1991 National Energy Strategy proposals (DOE, 1991). EPACT provides congressional guidance on a wide range of energy-related issues. Its provisions are intended to support a more competitive economy, a cleaner environment, and increased energy security.
EPACT enumerates many coal-related RDD&C activities, specifically as shown in Box 1-1. (Key coal-related provisions of the act are discussed further in Chapter 10 and reproduced in full in Appendix B.) The act gives the Secretary of Energy certain responsibilities for DOE's coal program and further requires the Secretary to submit reports to the Congress, including a plan to meet the objectives defined in the act's Title XIII—Coal, Section 1301. These high-level objectives focus on ensuring a reliable electricity supply, increasing the environmental acceptability of coal technologies, and achieving the cost-competitive conversion of coal to transportation fuels. Relevant technologies are to be available for commercial use by 2010. In addition to Subtitle A, subtitles B and C of Title XIII and Subtitle A of Title XX identify other coal-related activities to be implemented by DOE.
The principal technical areas EPACT identifies in sections relating to coal are electric power generation and conversion of coal to liquid and gaseous fuels. Nonfuel uses of coal—for coke, chemical feedstocks, and other products—also are addressed. EPACT emphasizes improving the environmental acceptability of the entire coal fuel cycle, from coalbed methane recovery, through power generation and conversion to fuels, to the utilization of coal wastes. A distinction is made between RDD&C activities described in Subtitle A of Title XIII and the Clean Coal Technology (CCT) program described in subtitles B and C. As discussed in Chapter 2, the latter program specifically addresses the need for cost-effective, high-efficiency, low-emission coal technologies ready for commercial application by 2010.