demand for new generating capacity. Interest in the production of synthetic fuels from coal will also likely increase significantly in response to rising international oil prices. In the long-term (2021-2040) the balance of coal uses may well shift, with liquids and other clean fuels from coal becoming increasingly important compared to power generation. The emphasis on power generation will continue to be significant, but the need to minimize carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions will impose severe demands on efficiency and emission control systems, resulting in increased interest in other energy sources.

To develop scenarios for the three periods and related RDD&C planning criteria, the committee devoted significant effort to identifying those factors that would affect the use of coal (see Chapter 3). The committee explored alternative views of future energy needs, environmental control requirements, institutional factors, international developments, and resource availability. The information and perspectives developed were then used to assess current DOE programs and to draw conclusions and recommendations consistent with the committee's strategic planning framework and its overall charge.


Over the years, R&D has been conducted in the United States on all stages of the coal fuel cycle, from mining to end use, in both private and public sectors. Coal R&D has also been undertaken overseas and has been pursued cooperatively between the United States and other countries. The pace of domestic R&D has been uneven, depending on economic circumstances, perceived U.S. vulnerability to energy interruptions, and the reality of such energy problems as the 1973 oil embargo by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The following brief discussion of private sector and international activities provides some general background for the committee's assessment. Specific private and international programs, such as the development of Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) processes and of gasification technology, are addressed in later technical discussions of the DOE program.

Private Sector Activities

R&D by the private sector has been affected by the ebb and flow of government support for coal-related R&D, although much R&D has been carried out independent of government support, driven mainly by perceived economic opportunities. Prior to the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, the private sector was involved in technical developments relating to coal mining, electric power generation, and, to a lesser degree, coal liquefaction. The subsequent energy uncertainties of the 1970s resulted in rapid price rises for petroleum and natural gas. With some forecasts projecting high petroleum prices for the longer term, the private sector envisioned opportunities to produce liquid fuels or synthetic natural gas from

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