U.S. DOE Plans to Fund New Projects Involving Gasified Coal & Biomass


The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy announced plans to offer funding for new projects that gasify a mix of coal and biomass to generate electric power and a carbon-free hydrogen coproduct on May 18. This announcement was part of a larger $81 million draft funding opportunity announcement, or FOA, called Design Development and System Integrated Design Studies for Coal FIRST Concepts. The DOE said that the draft of FOA has been issued to make sure anyone interested is aware of the opportunity. The finalized FOA should be issued later this summer. 

The DOE’s Coal FIRST Initiative for Coal and Biomass

All projects funded through this FOA will support the DOE’s Coal FIRST initiative, which stands for Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, and Transformative. This initiative aims to develop the coal plant of the future. According to the DOE, Coal FIRST plants will be capable of the flexible operations needed to meet the needs of the grid and transportation sector. 

Coal FIRST plants will be able to:

  • Use innovative and cutting-edge components that improve efficiency and reduce emissions
  • Provide resilient energy to Americans
  • Be small compared to today’s conventional utility-scale coal-fired plants
  • Transform how coal technologies are designed and manufactured

Some designs will also provide hydrogen to support transportation and industrial applications. 

The projects that are selected by the DOE will complete design development, host site evaluation and environmental information volume, and investment case analysis, and a system integration design study for an engineering-scale prototype under one of four Coal FIRST power plant concepts:

  • A flexible ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant
  • A pressurized fluidized bed combustor with supercritical steam cycle power plant
  • A hybrid natural gas turbine or USC coal boiler power plant
  • A flexible gasification of coal and biomass to generate electric power and a carbon-free hydrogen coproduct. 

Applicants submitting projects under the coal and biomass gasification concept are permitted the discretion to innovate on plant design—but only if it still addresses all mandatory Coal FIRST plant attributes, and possesses the major plant characteristics of the Coal FIRST plant concept described in the FOA. 

The deadline for full applications is expected to be in mid-August. Selected projects will be notified in October, with awards given out in December. Visit the DOE’s website for more information. 
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