Neela Banerjee of the LA Times discusses the new energy installation being constructed in Kemper County, Mississippi. The Kemper plant, scheduled to open later this year, is set to be the first facility to ramp up technology for the removal of carbon dioxide emissions and is designed to shape the future of coal.
Four additional plants are expected to open in the coming years, with many consumers excited about this push to prove that coal can remain a part of the United States’ energy strategy. At this point in time, current coal technologies are at a severe disadvantage, due to new rules and regulations pertaining to carbon emissions. Coal-fired power plants are seen as the single largest source of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, releasing nearly 1,800 pounds per megawatt hours. New regulations would limit these emissions to 1,100 pounds per megawatt hours.
This dramatic regulations change has seen a push for natural gas based energy measures. This push involves not only a very heavy reliance on a historically volatile commodity, but also an increase in fracking practices. Some see this move as an extremely risky decision, considering that the United States has the world’s largest reserves of recoverable coal, a historically low priced and stable source of energy. Senator Edwin S. Rubin, a professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University commented on that.
“If you think that it’s a sound bet that coal will be part of the future of the country, if you have an interest in coal, and companies like Southern do, it makes good business sense to develop technology that lets you use the resource in way that is socially acceptable.”
The Kemper plant, once opened, will be capable of generating enough electricity to serve 189,000 customers. It will then serve as an opportunity to perfect this carbon-capture technology, before implementing it at all of Southern Company’s coal facilities.