Energy futureEPA studies IGCC, a method for burning coal cleanly

Published 10 July 2006

More than 50 percent of U.S. electricity is produced from coal; there is no alternative to coal in the near future, so we had better work to make coals cleaner; the EPS discusses a new method for clean-burning coal

A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discusses a new technology which can help provide electricity from coal in an environmentally sustainable way. The technology is Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), and it partially burns coal to generate gas. EPA examined the environmental impacts of IGCC technology as part of the agency’s efforts to understand how the developments in science and technology could lead to a cleaner method to generate power from coal. The report found that IGCC can lower air emissions, lower water usage, and produce less solid waste. The report also found that IGCC has the potential to provide a more cost effective approach to capture carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, produced during coal combustion.

More than 50 percent of electricity in the United States is generated from the burning of coal. Only two coal-fired power plants in the United States currently use IGCC technology. Several companies have announced plans to build and operate additional IGCC facilities.