Work has begun on a new kind of coal power plant in southwestern Indiana, near Edwardsport. The plant will use a technology called “integrated gasification combined cycle,” or IGCC. Coal isn’t burned, but heated and turned into a gas. Both the gas and the heat from the process then power generators. Proponents say IGCC plants are cleaner than traditional plants because they don’t emit harmful pollutants during combustion. And that means the plant could make more use of Indiana coal, which is higher in sulfur than coal from western states. Indiana Office of Energy and Defense Development director Brandon Seitz says the state’s coal industry is trying to make sure it replaces an aging workforce in time to take advantage of greater demand.
“What you are seeing is that, in anticipation of more of these IGCC plants, there is planning already to make sure that the working force are ready for going into mines and starting new mines,” Seitz says.
Pikeville, Kentucky has also been selected as a site for a new coal-to-liquid plant. Currently only two such plants are in operation in the country. Critics say they still emit greenhouse gas producing carbon dioxide, though Seitz says owners of the new Indiana plant will look for ways to capture the gas and store it.