Clean Coal in the U.S. and China, An Industry Note

By Robert Burgelman, Andrew Grove, Debra Schifrin
2009 | Case No. SM183
This case covers the coal industry and clean coal initiatives in the Unites States and China. Coal is a crucial source of global energy, but coal-fired plants are environmentally unfriendly and are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. One way to reduce emission is through clean coal technologies, a term which usually refers to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), also referred to as Carbon Capture and Sequestration. CCS projects around the world are in the pilot and planning stage. The U.S. government has become involved in promoting clean coal technology by setting aside $3.4 billion for CCS projects through the Department of Energy. One billion of that will go toward a troubled CCS project called “FutureGen” in Illinois, and the government is trying to put together a group of 20 private companies to invest in the project in order for it to move forward. Private Companies, such as American Electric Power Company and Duke Energy are also working on their own individual CCS pilot projects. The Chinese government has also gotten involved in promoting clean coal technologies by dedicating billions of dollars to technology development and joining with private companies on CCS projects, the most notable of which is GreenGen. Seventy percent of China’s energy comes from coal, as well as eighty percent of its electricity. The case also looks at the arguments and impact of environmentalists on the adoption of clean coal technologies. Environmentalists, most notably former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, believe that clean coal is a myth and have been lobbying against clean coal and coal in general.
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