time period considered in this study (i.e., through 2040). U.S. coal prices have declined over the past decade, and no rapid price increases are anticipated in the near future. Imports of South American coals, which are competitive with U.S. coals on a delivered price basis in certain locations in the eastern United States, are likely to play a role in keeping domestic prices low. While U.S. coal exports are significant (10 percent of 1992 production of 998 million tons), technology developments within the DOE coal program are not likely to open any major new markets for U.S. coal. In contrast, demands for new and retrofit coal-based electricity generation technologies in developing countries, notably China and in Eastern Europe, represent a potentially large export market for U.S. technology. Nonetheless, the extent of U.S. participation in overseas markets for advanced coal utilization technologies is difficult to forecast, given the competition from overseas companies and the complex political and economic factors governing international trade.
The single largest use for coal in the United States is for power generation; electric utilities consumed 87.4 percent of the total 1992 domestic consumption of 892 million tons. However, the demand for new coal-fired power generating capacity in the United States is expected to remain low for the next 10 years. Overcapacity, while declining, still exists in some regions, and low-cost natural gas is more attractive than coal for the addition of peaking capacity since capital costs are lower and the lead time for plant construction is shorter.
A resurgence in demand for new coal-based generating capacity is anticipated by 2010, as existing plants reach the end of their useful life and baseload electricity demand increases. Natural gas prices will likely increase by this time, to the point where a return to coal-based technologies is favored. However, increasingly stringent environmental regulations governing emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), fine-particulate air pollutants, and possibly air toxics from power plants, as well as solid waste issues, will place severe demands on coal-fired power plant performance. Furthermore, concern over the potential impacts of global warming may lead to penalties on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal combustion, resulting in increased emphasis on high-efficiency for coal-based power generation systems designed to operate through the middle of the twenty-first century.
The market for synthetic gaseous and liquid fuels from coal is currently small due to the widespread availability and low-cost of petroleum and natural gas. This situation is expected to persist for the next 15 years, with increases in oil and gas prices unlikely to be large enough to stimulate major investment in processes for the manufacture of synthetic natural gas or liquid fuels from coal (EIA, 1994). However, by the second decade of the twenty-first century this situation may change, as the cost of synthetic fuels is reduced by process and systems advances and as concerns over the supply and price of competing fuels increase.
On the basis of the above factors influencing coal use, the committee devel-