CONSOL Energy Mining Complex power station

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CONSOL Energy Mining Complex power station is an announced power station in Pennsylvania, United States. It is also known as 21st Century Power Plant project.

Location

Table 1: Project-level location details

Plant name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
CONSOL Energy Mining Complex power station Pennsylvania, United States 39.974, -80.377 (approximate)

The map below shows the approximate location of the power station.

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Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology Start year Retired year
Unit 1 announced coal - waste coal, bioenergy - unknown 400 supercritical 2028

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner
Unit 1 CONSOL Energy Inc [100.0%]

Project-level coal details

  • Coal source(s): Pennsylvania Mining Complex

Background

CONSOL Energy proposed designing a 300 MW “advanced carbon-negative power plant” that runs on waste coal and biomass, with the potential to be demonstrated in the next 5–10 years and achieve market penetration by 2030. The project was intended to provide “a roadmap for decision-makers, investors, engineers, construction contractors, and other stakeholders to construct a prototype plant.”[1]

Company

CONSOL Energy Inc. is a Pennsylvania-based producer and exporter of high-Btu bituminous thermal coal and metallurgical coal. It owns and operates longwall mining operations in the Northern Appalachian Basin and is developing a new metallurgical coal mine in the Central Appalachian Basin. CONSOL's flagship operation is the Pennsylvania Mining Complex, which had the capacity to produce approximately 28.5 million tons of coal per year in 2021 and is comprised of 3 large-scale underground mines: Bailey, Enlow Fork, and Harvey. The company also owns and operates the CONSOL Marine Terminal (see CNX Marine Terminal), which is located in the port of Baltimore and has a throughput capacity of approximately 15 million tons per year.[2]

US DOE’s Coal FIRST Initiative

CONSOL’s Advanced Pressurized Fluidized Bed Combustion (PFBC) Project[3] was developed in response to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Coal FIRST (“Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, Transformative”) program. The 21st Century Power Plants initiative supports “the development of the coal plant of the future to provide secure, stable, and reliable power.”[4] The program is intended to lead to “the design of an advanced coal-based power plant that can be commercially viable in the U.S. power generation market of the future, has the potential to be demonstrated in the next 5-10 years and can begin achieving market penetration by 2030.”[5]

CONSOL’s project was one of four selected through the federal Coal FIRST initiative. The projects cumulatively received US$80 million in federal funding.[6] In January 2021, CONSOL stated that the plant could be operational by 2028 and claimed that it would have zero carbon emissions.[7]  

Phases I-III

The project advanced through phases 1 and 2 of DOE’s competitive process (Conceptual Design and Pre-FEED), and its core technology was identified as a priority for phase 3 (Design Development & FEED) funding. In October 2020, CONSOL’s phase 3 application was selected for funding. Work on this phase of the project began in January 2021, and was expected to continue through mid-2023.[5]

The project was slated to be a ~300 MW (net), carbon-negative power plant utilizing waste coal slurry derived from CONSOL’s Pennsylvania Mining Complex in Greene County as the primary fuel, supplemented with bioenergy with carbon capture and storage integration (BECCS).[5][8]

As of 2021, the company hoped to begin construction in 2024 and commission the plant in 2028.[9]

(In what appeared to be unrelated news, on March 31, 2021, CONSOL announced that it had priced $75 million of tax-exempt solid waste disposal revenue bonds to be issued through the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority (PEDFA). In keeping with the requirements of the tax-exempt issuance, the proceeds were expected to be used to finance the already ongoing expansion of the coal refuse disposal areas at the Company's Bailey Preparation Plant in Graysville, Pennsylvania, set to support current and future mining at the Pennsylvania Mining Complex.[10])

2022: Presumed shelved

According to CONSOL's 2021 Sustainability Report released in 2022, the front end engineering and design (FEED) study for the project was underway in 2022.[11]

However, the Biden administration's January 2021 Executive Order “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad” and other actions made clear that the administration’s policy goals on fossil fuels were in contrast to the previous Trump administration’s.[12]

There were no mentions of the project in CONSOL's 2022 investor calls.[13][14][15]

In response to a January 2023 request for a status update, DOE News responded "Please contact CONSOL Energy" and CONSOL Energy did not immediately respond.

With no clear updates on CONSOL's project or the DOE initiative, the proposal was presumed shelved even though work on developing the project could be ongoing.

2023: Progress Updates from CONSOL and U.S. DOE

In March 2023, CONSOL Energy released its 2022 Corporate Sustainable Responsibility (CSR) report, in which the company stated that it was continuing "to advance the understanding and characterization of CO2 storage resources and opportunities in the Appalachian Basin, as part of [their] U.S. DOE sponsored 21st Century Power Plant Project (21CPP)." The company was allegedly envisioning "full-scale deployment of methane abatement or capture technology to mitigate emissions from [its] mining operations."[16]

The 2022 CSR Report stated it had initiated "a geological study assessing opportunities for permanent CO2 sequestration in the vicinity of the Pennsylvania Mining Complex (PAMC)" as part of its 21st Century Power Plant (21CPP) project.[16] The report further detailed that the 21CPP project sought to build an "approximately 400 [Megawatt electric]" power plant (in contrast to the previously stated capacity of 300 MW) fueled by waste coal and biomass. The location was unspecified beyond that it would be built in the vicinity of the PAMC (Pennsylvania Mining Complex).[16]

Regarding the status of the proposed plant, the 2022 CSR report made the following updates:

• "Phase I design optimization nearing completion

• Project Environmental Information Volume (“EIV”) nearing completion

• Characterization of local geologic resources for CO2 sequestration ongoing"

In December 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy's "Carbon Capture Newsletter" also included the following news regarding CONSOL Energy's proposed coal plant: "The Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) Environmental segment has been awarded a contract to study the application of its SolveBright™ solvent-based CO2 capture solution for CONSOL Energy’s advanced coal and biomass-based 21st Century Power Plant project, which is currently in development."[17]

Based on the project updates provided by the DOE newsletter and CONSOL Energy's report, the plant was presumed to be in a developmental process.

(In April 2023, it was reported that the U.S. EPA's draft regulations on the power sector could "require utilities to slash their carbon emissions to levels that could be achieved by using carbon capture systems." Experts highlighted that "just because the agency tailored its rules around emissions levels that could be met with carbon capture systems doesn’t mean utilities will be compelled to install them." Reporting noted that the potential regulations were "bolstered by passage last year of the climate law known as the Inflation Reduction Act, which included larger tax credits for companies that use carbon capture technologies."[18][19])

An October 2023 presentation by CONSOL Energy outlined progress on the project up to June 30, 2023, which included:[20]

  • "Completed the phase 1 design optimization engineering. Includes the preliminary plant and site layouts, project costs, environmental analyses, and investment case."
  • "Developed (2) working sites for locating the power plant – both in SW PA. Final selection in late 2023."
  • "Assessed the regional geology including CO2 storage zones, caprocks, geologic structures, and CCS feasibility for PFBC project sites. Identified a few potential CO2 storage sites in PA and WV."
  • "DOE awarded continuation to Budget Period 2, the FEED Study phase. Started July 2023."

Articles and Resources

References

  1. “21st Century Power Plant,” Carbon Solutions LLC, accessed January 2022
  2. “CONSOL Energy Announces Results for the Third Quarter 2021,” CONSOL Energy, November 2, 2021
  3. "Advanced Pressurized Fluidized Bed Coal Combustion with Carbon Capture Technology Gap Analysis and Commercial Pathway Report," CONSOL Pennsylvania Coal Company LLC, February 4, 2020
  4. “21st Century Power Plants,” US Dept. of Energy, accessed January 2022
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 “Consol Energy: Leading The Way Toward A Cleaner, Sustainable Future For Coal,” PA Chamber, accessed January 2022
  6. “Project Descriptions: Coal FIRST Initiative Invests $80 Million in Net-Zero Carbon Electricity and Hydrogen Plants,” Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, likely ~December 2020
  7. "Consol hoping to build coal-fired plant with zero emissions," The Observer-Reporter, January 9, 2021
  8. "Testimony to Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee," CONSOL Energy, March 10, 2021
  9. “Consol hoping to build coal-fired plant with zero emissions,” Observer Reporter, January 9, 2021
  10. "CONSOL Energy Prices $75 Million of Tax-Exempt Solid Waste Disposal Revenue Bonds," CONSOL Energy Inc. Press Release, March 31, 2021
  11. “2021 Corporate Sustainability Report,” Consol Energy, 2021
  12. See, e.g., "Strategic Vision: The Role of FECM in Achieving Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions," Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, April 2022
  13. "CONSOL Energy Inc. (CEIX) Q1 2022 Results Earnings Call Transcript," Seeking Alpha, May 3, 2022
  14. "CONSOL Energy Inc. (CEIX) Q2 2022 Results Earnings Call Transcript," Seeking Alpha, August 4, 2022
  15. "CONSOL Energy Inc. (CEIX) Q3 2022 Results Earnings Call Transcript," Seeking Alpha, November 1, 2022
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "2022 Corporate Sustainable Responsibility Report," CONSOL Energy Inc., March 2023
  17. "Carbon Capture Newsletter," U.S. DOE, Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, December 2022
  18. "EPA won’t require carbon capture at all power plants — sources," E&E News, April 26, 2023
  19. "EPA rules may push power plants to capture carbon. Is the tech ready?," Canary Media, April 28, 2023
  20. "Design Development and System Integration Design Study for an Advanced Pressurized Fluidized Bed Combustion Power Plant with Carbon Capture, Project Update Presentation," CONSOL Energy, October 4, 2023

Additional data

To access additional data, including an interactive map of coal-fired power stations, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.