oped a set of strategic planning scenarios summarizing requirements for future coal utilization to 2040 (see Chapter 4 and below). DOE's current strategic planning objectives extend through 2010, largely in response to the EPACT requirement to develop commercial technologies by that date. However, coal will continue to be a major source of energy well beyond 2010, with the potential in the longer term for a changing emphasis in coal use in response to resource limitations and increasing prices for competing fuels.
The committee recommends that the planning horizon for DOE coal RDD&C programs extend beyond the agency's current planning horizon of 2010. The committee recommends the use of three time periods for strategic planning: near-term (1995-2005), mid-term (2006-2020), and long-term (2021-2040). The main objective of DOE's coal program in all periods should be to provide the basis for technological solutions to likely future demands, in a way that is robust and flexible.
The above timeframes correspond to anticipated major trends in coal utilization. In the near-term the scenarios for coal use will resemble today's, with power generation persisting as the dominant market, despite limited demand for new coal-fired baseload generation capacity. The mid-term will likely be a transition period. Power generation will remain the major use of coal, and there will be a significant demand for new baseload capacity using advanced high-efficiency coal technologies to meet increasingly stringent air pollution control and solid waste disposal requirements, plus possible penalties for CO2 emissions. In addition, increasing international oil prices will result in a growth of interest in the production of synthetic transportation fuels from coal, and increases in natural gas prices will stimulate interest in coal gasification. Coproduct systems that manufacture two or more salable products might provide attractive market-entry opportunities for liquid fuels from coal. For example, gasification technology could provide a common basis for both power generation and the production of liquid fuels.
In the long-term (beyond 2020) the production of liquid and gaseous fuels from coal will likely become increasingly important. Although coal use for power generation will continue to be significant, increasingly stringent controls on emissions, particularly of greenhouse gases, will impose severe demands on efficiency and emission control systems, stimulating interest in alternative energy sources for power generation. Environmental concerns, including greenhouse issues, will also affect the production of clean fuels from coal. Nonetheless, the demand for these products is expected to grow once gas and petroleum resources dwindle or rise substantially in price. The committee recognizes that planning for the long-term period will necessarily be less well defined and will entail greater uncertainty than near- and mid-term planning.
These scenarios suggest a change in future priorities within the DOE coal