Lasted edited by Andrew Munsey, updated on June 14, 2016 at 9:32 pm.
Discussion page for Directory:NewEarth ECO Clean "Coal"
Directory:Biomass / Directory:Clean Coal > Directory:NewEarth ECO Clean "Coal" - NewEarth Renewable Energy, Inc. produces a "coal" equivalent from biomass sources. The pellets do not smoke, and produce virtually no pollution, yet have the same BTU content as coal, but at a lower price, ultimately. (PESWiki Feb. 4, 2008)
I called this company yesterday and spoke with one of their team members. Essentially, they have a process for converting renewable biomass that is available locally into a coal substitute that has the same BTU output and basic properties of coal without the pollutants. Their business model is to build processing plants next to coal burning generation plants and to tune their "eco coal" to match the grade of coal used at that plant. The effective minimum annual volume is 100,000 tons. When one incorporates the effect of carbon credits and clean air credits (e.g. Sox nox), this can match the economics of brown and black coal.
The limitation of this process is effectively the limited availablility of surplus biomass and surplus land to grow biomass. It is one thing to produce a few hundred thousand tons per year to alternatively fuel a couple of coal fueled plants, but it is not possible to replace the majority of coal. Realistically, it could at best replace 10% to 15% of coal usage if widely adopted. Widescale use of this would have the potential to drive up agricultural prices, much as ethanol subsidies have caused significant inflation and distortions in the corn, soybean, wheat, and meat markets, if one uses agricultural crops and land as the source for the biomass. However, this process can use a wide variety of biomass, including seaweed, algae, agricultural and animal waste. To the extent that implementations use biomass with little current value that does not require prime agricultural land, this could be a very clean and renewable alternative to coal.
The bottom line is that this looks promising and we need to investigate it in greater detail.
This is a stepping stone technology. It is an interrim
alternative with great potential. Just being
practical, the world is not going to retire the
existing status quo energy capabilities in 5 years,
regardless of what shows up on the scene it will take
some time. In the meantime, some dirty coal-fired
electric generating plants will be made MUCH cleaner.
NewEarth's ability to provide a renewable and
substantially cleaner substitute for coal does have a
sustainability issue, but when seen as an interrim
solution to dirty coal, it is VERY attractive. As the
company points out, no farmland is being diverted to
grow trees, and no mature forests are being cut. Trees
such as poplars are being planted on arable soil that
otherwise is not in use by humans or is not a
sensitive biome. I easily see the abandoned farmland
in upstate New York as prime real estate to "develop"
this new industry fields have been fallow for
decades, and brushy woods are growing there.
Since the planted forests will be harvested in about 3
years of rotation, the CO2 issue is neutral.
I have spoken to the CEO and I like his attitude. He
is looking beyond this interrim opportunity (he sees
its limitations, but its current value) into the kind
of alternative energy we want to see developed.
NewEarth is just a stepping stone to what we want to
This is a VERY pragmatic technology to support!
This is a little bit difficult to truly assess for US markets, as we don’t (yet) have a carbon tax (or Cap and Trade) system.
On the surface it sounds interesting, but is very expensive compared to most large scale US coal burning applications, even considering the benefits of reduced NOx, SO2, and Mercury emissions.
Since it still produces CO and CO2, it may not even be eligible for Carbon trading credits?
Without the Carbon credits, it is not competitive with coal, and not necessarily that attractive to coal fired power plants, unless they have clean coal restrictions.
The secret would be to talk to some of their large customers and see what they say about cost and emissions benefits, including coal fired power plants.
- - - -
I was speaking with Directory:James Dunn just now about your technology.
He thinks the concept is good, but he sees some significant problems when it comes to being cost competitive. He said that your numbers for the cost of coal are about an order of magnitude too high.
I tend to trust his assessment since he has such a good grasp of the industry in general.
He also points out that the coal industry under Bush is getting away with "murder" through certain 5-year deferments that Bush is allowing, so the compliance costs that you address in your brochure for making coal more expensive are presently essentially moot in the U.S.
Another point he made is that regulatory agencies seldom see the whole picture. They're going to be regulating the CO2 coming from plants burning ECO clean coal as much as regular coal. They're not going to care whether the biomass that was grown to make the ECO clean coal pellets pulled more CO2 out of the atmosphere than is being put into it in burning the pellets. Just look at the auto industry. They don't judge based on what's coming out the tailpipe, they just don't want you messing with the emissions equipment. Bureaucrats can be maddening when it comes to things like this that are so plain to most people with any sense about them.
I'm not saying that things couldn't change, because there are many enlightened changes gradually emerging.
Still, what I would recommend is that you present your numbers conservatively, and acknowledge that your cost is high right now, and identify the "low hanging fruit" as things such as
- nations where carbon credits are favorable
- very old, dirty plants in jeopardy of shut-down
p.s. I got your pellet samples the other day and am looking forward to doing a little demo with them to report on our site.