Coal, biomass discussed at Morgantown conference
September 21, 2012 ·
What is the future of coal, and how can it be used in different ways to diversity the state and nation’s energy economy? These were topics at a Morgantown conference this week.
The conference consisted of presentations, as well as question and answer sessions that allowed speakers to interact with the audience.
Subjects included energy policy, coal and carbon capture, and biomass and bioenergy projects. Wood is a typical source of biomass.
Biomass, as a renewable energy source, is basically biological material from living or recently living organisms.
One of the conference speakers was Richard Bajura, director of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy.
He’s done research into how carbon captured from coal can be used to expand oil production.
"You’d have the benefit of giving the United States a more ready supply of oil, while at the same time, capturing carbon from being emitted to the atmosphere, and for West Virginia, continue to make a case for why we should continue to use coal in this country," Bajura said.
Bajura believes a pipeline would have to be implemented to transport carbon captured from coal production, and sent to areas in the region that can develop more oil.
Bajura says this includes parts of West Virginia, as well as Ohio and Pennsylvania.
"There’s a lot of oil remaining in place, where that was like the Saudi Arabia of oil many years ago," Bajura said.
But there are roadblocks. One of these Bajura says is the lack of a proper regulatory framework that can establish guidelines for this kind of work. Another is more straightforward—money.
"It’s very expensive, it hasn’t been proven, and it’s a relatively new technology that we’re talking about here. I think we are at the right time to look at this," he said.
But Bajura believes the benefits will be great. He says by 2035, the country could be seeing a lot of rewards.
"I think the opportunities are tremendous. We have the potential for generating at least a million new jobs, multiple taxes that would be given back to locals, it’s a no brainer from my perspective there. What it does take is the will to look forward and do it," Bajura said.
The conference was hosted by the Appalachian Hardwood Center, Bio-Based Materials Center, National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University, and the West Virginia Division of Energy.