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Wash U teams up with big energy on 'clean coal'

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Washington University has announced the formation of an energy consortium to research and develop so-called "clean-coal" technology.

Clean coal is an experimental procedure to capture and store the carbon dioxide emissions created from coal combustion.

The research consortium is partially funded by grants from Peabody Energy, Ameren and Arch Coal, all based in St. Louis.

"Global demand for electricity grew nearly twenty-five percent in the last decade," said Greg Boyce, the CEO of Peabody Energy. "And the IEA (International Energy Agency" expects coal's share of global energy market to increase dramatically from 6.5 billion tons today to over 11 billion tons by 2030."

Wash U experts say clean coal is the most promising immediate source of "clean" energy.

Ameren CEO Gary Rainwater says the incoming Obama administration has signaled its intent to reduce carbon emissions below 1990 levels, and the best way to accomplish that will be with clean coal technology.

"So, those are significant reductions that will require technology in order to achieve them," Rainwater said. "We can't do it any other way except by applying the use of technology in order to limit those emissions."

Ameren creates 85 percent of its energy from coal-fired power plants.

Ameren, Arch Coal and Peabody have announced funding commitments of $12 million over five years.