The commercialization of Vision 21 technologies, both domestically and internationally, in the post-2015 period will be extremely difficult. The construction of prototype, or commercial-scale, demonstration plants is not currently included in the Vision 21 Program Plan. The goals of the program are restricted to providing complete commercial plant designs and cost estimates, as well as verified virtual simulations of plant performance and demonstrations of key modules. The committee does not believe the designs, cost estimates, virtual simulations, and module demonstrations will be convincing unless they are accompanied by a commercial deployment program. Vision 21 plants based on commercial designs will not be in service until at least 2020, and full deployment of Vision 21 plants should not be expected before 2030.
Conditions in the post-2015 world may be very different from conditions today: (1) continued global economic growth may lead to greatly increased consumption of electricity and fuels; (2) environmental pressures may lead to a global regime of carbon management, as well as widespread, stringent local regulations on air emissions; and (3) restricted availability of gas supplies in many regions and extensive replacements of both coal and nuclear power plants may create many new market opportunities for coal-based power generation.
Recommendation. The U.S. Department of Energy should sequence its commercialization strategy for Vision 21 technologies to encourage the commercialization of components as they become available in the post-2010 time frame. Early commercialization would capitalize on the domestic and international opportunities for improved coal-based technologies.
Recommendation. The U.S. Department of Energy should work with private industry to develop an incentive program for the first three to five installations to overcome the technical and economic risks associated with early domestic or international commercial applications of new technologies.
DOE (U.S. Department of Energy). 1999. Vision 21 Program Plan: Clean Energy Plants for the 21st Century. Morgantown, W.V.: Federal Energy Technology Center.