Earlier this year, The U.S. Department of Energy announced its Coal FIRST (Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, and Transformative) initiative which aimed to develop coal plants of the future that will provide stable, reliable power with near-zero emissions. As Energy Fairness has written before, coal still plays an important role in our energy mix, currently accounting for around 30% of electricity generation here in the U.S. and is expected to continue to be a major source of electricity well into the future. The Coal FIRST initiative is an important step toward recognizing the full potential of this often under-appreciated resource.
Under this initiative, the DOE’s Department of Fossil Energy is intending to invest around $100 million in federal funding for cost shared research and development of of projects that meet the requirements of Coal FIRST systems. The goal is to design plants that are flexible, innovative, resilient and small compared to today’s coal fired power plants and to transform how these technologies are designed and manufactured.
“Coal is an abundant, affordable, resilient, and reliable energy source that, through innovation, will continue to be an important part of the U.S. portfolio for decades to come,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes.
“The Department’s Coal FIRST initiative is helping the Nation secure its domestic power supply by developing plants that are not only more reliable, resilient, efficient, and near zero emissions, but that can adapt to the changing electrical grid.”
The Coal FIRST initiative is picking up steam and 7 new designs have been selected by the DOE to receive $7 million in funding and proceed with preliminary front-end engineering design (pre-FEED) studies. These new designs seek to take coal fired power to the next level to meet the demands of our evolving energy grid which needs flexibility, reliability and reduced emissions. This is fantastic news for the future of coal fired power which has already proven to be a modern success story in most of the world.
These exciting new technologies have the potential reduce costs and make good use of abundant U.S. coal resources. Coal is one of our most valuable energy resources and the Coal FIRST initiative has the potential to make our future even brighter. And, it will keep our power affordable and reliable.