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news – june 2010

Imagine West Virginia Encouraged by Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s Visit to Charleston

Recently, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Dr. Steven Chu spoke at a “Future of Coal” forum at the University of Charleston.  The event was sponsored by the University, Senator Jay Rockefeller, the law firm of Robinson & McElwee and many other organizations - like American Electric Power (AEP), the West Virginia Roundtable and the United Mine Workers of America - with which some Imagine West Virginia (IWV) members are affiliated.  IWV has stood behind, supported and encouraged the Secretary’s visit to the Mountain State since the board received a competencies briefing in July, 2009, of the work being performed in Morgantown by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).  IWV was pleased to see this event come to fruition; certainly, eyes from across the globe watched as the Secretary joined Senator Rockefeller to discuss how strategic investments in research and development are helping to solve complex issues associated with fossils (coal) harnessing, use and management and, more importantly, how West Virginia is playing a critical role in advancing that effort.

Dr. Chu’s presentation was very detailed and informative, and his presence was well received by the media and an auditorium crowd totaling more than 900.  Of note, it was beneficial to hear the Secretary specify how some of the research in West Virginia around coal is helping to drive America’s leadership around fossils research.  As examples, the Secretary cited:

  • the importance of the ongoing demonstration work of the AEP Mountaineer Carbon Capture and Geologic Storage Project in New Haven, a $334 million project to test the capture of 90% of a power plant’s CO2 emissions and permanently bury it underground.  The AEP project is cost-shared under DOE stimulus dollars, and it is one of a select few national projects underway to test the science of on-site CO2 capture and storage;  
  • the progress of the NETL’s integration into consulting and researching with and funding the work of a newly-established 5-university (West Virginia, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, Penn State, and Virginia Tech) fossils consortium.  In fact, Secretary Chu used his visit to West Virginia to announce a new $40 million project spearheaded by the NETL to led the university consortium into partnering with the national labs of Lawrence Berkley, Los Alamos, Pacific Northwest, and Lawrence Livermore to conduct technical carbon capture and storage (CCS) computer simulations that seek to trim “10-20 years” off the development and large-scale deployment of the science;   
  • that the DOE will support a newly-established WVU-led US-China Clean Energy Research Center on carbon capture and sequestration.  As has been recognized at and touted by IWV, this Center has enormous potential to help West Virginia export fossils resources, expertise and knowledge-based services to Chinese and other Asian markets.

Dr. Chu’s 30-minute presentation contained a vast amount of quick information, but it was enlightening and it helped to showcase significant work that is being done in West Virginia by the state’s coal-based leadership.  Yet most importantly, it helped to educate West Virginians about the presence and work of NETL within the state and it emphasized some the state’s leadership potential relating to fossils research.

To review a copy of Secretary Chu’s presentation, click here.