GE & UW work to advance cleaner coal
High Plains Gasification Advanced Technology Center
by University of Wyoming
November 2, 2008
GE Energy and the University of Wyoming have reached agreement on a proposed development plan for the High Plains Gasification Advanced Technology Center. The agreement outlines the framework for the development, design, construction and operation of the facility, and enables work to begin immediately.
Plans are for the High Plains Gasification Advanced Technology Center to enable researchers from both GE and UW to develop advanced gasification and "cleaner coal" solutions for Powder River Basin and other coals. The center will consist of a small-scale gasification system.
"This is the beginning of what I hope is a productive, long-term relationship with GE to demonstrate how Wyoming coal can be utilized into the future," Gov. Dave Freudenthal said. "There is a community of interests here -- for GE, there is a desire to develop and utilize new technology to gasify Powder River Basin and other Wyoming coals. For the state of Wyoming, there is a desire to continue to sell that coal in an evolving energy market.
As the demand for electricity continues to rise, this question of managing carbon while still utilizing coal is an issue we will be confronting for many years to come. I am confident that the research developed at this facility will help us answer some of these questions and keep coal in the mix of cleaner and more secure domestic fuels long into the future."
"We are pleased to be working with the University of Wyoming to build a gasification research facility," said Steve Bolze, president and CEO, GE Energy's Power & Water business. "A diverse fuel mix for power generation is necessary to ensure the security and reliability of our customers' power generation portfolios, as well as the nation's energy independence.
"When completed, this center is expected to enable the University of Wyoming and GE Energy to advance cleaner coal technology and create the next generation of gasification experts. The acceleration of reliable, low-cost, cleaner coal power technology will help meet a growing demand for power, create jobs, support economic growth and positively impact the environment."
The agreement outlines the development process for the facility including design, engineering, and construction; the operation of the governance board, which will serve as the board of directors for the joint project and additional contracts to be negotiated.
"We're very pleased to reach this step in the process," UW President Tom Buchanan said. "This project allows UW to advance critical coal research and to offer unique educational opportunities to our students. This kind of research will allow us to attract highly-skilled faculty to continue to build our world-class expertise in the area of energy research."
The University of Wyoming, with the support of GE Energy, will execute a site selection and acquisition process based upon a set of jointly developed criteria. The criteria will include consideration of a number of factors, including availability of land appropriate for the facility, availability of necessary utilities and waste disposal facilities, proximity to coal supply, environmental permitting requirements, and others.
The cost of the center will be split by GE Energy and UW. The state's contribution will come from appropriations to the university from the federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund. The initial state appropriation in 2008 was $20 million. Gov. Freudenthal proposes to seek an additional $30 million during the 2009 legislative session. The university will own the facility and be responsible for its operation. Under the agreement, GE Energy will lease the facility from the university, with options to renew.
Wyoming is uniquely positioned in the nation's energy landscape and has vast coal reserves capable of supporting a substantial portion of the nation's energy needs. Wyoming produces approximately 40 percent of all the coal used in the United States to generate electricity.
Gasification is more than a century old. The process uses pressure, heat and steam to convert carbon-based materials like coal into a synthesis gas (syngas) that can be used for a variety of products including the production of chemicals or fertilizers and power generation.
About GE Energy
GE Energy (www.ge.com/energy) is one of the world's leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies, with 2007 revenue of $22 billion. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, GE Energy works in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy; renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and biogas; and other alternative fuels. Numerous GE Energy products are certified under ecomagination, GE Energy's corporate-wide initiative to aggressively bring to market new technologies that will help customers meet pressing environmental challenges.