CATF China Project 


The Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is working in China and elsewhere in Asia to speed a global transition to low-carbon coal technology, by facilitating the development of joint business ventures between innovative energy companies and research institutions in Asia and the West. 


Coal Presents Enormous Climate Challenges …


We need decarbonized coal if we want to stabilize the global climate.  Carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power stations are the single largest driver of global warming on the planet, accounting for about 40 percent of man-made CO2 emissions from energy use.  If carbon emissions from coal power are not reduced substantially in the next two decades, global warming cannot be seriously addressed.


Coal, however, will remain a key source of energy for years, especially in some of the world’s largest economies.  The United States and China, which together produce half of the world’s coal-fired power emissions, control almost a third of world’s coal reserves and have built their energy sectors around large fleets of coal-fired generating stations.  Coal use by China is expected to double in the next 20 years. 


… And Can’t-Miss Opportunities


Because coal-based power is responsible for such a large share of global CO2 emissions, the development and deployment of technologies that allow us to get energy from coal without the emissions will be a huge step toward climate change mitigation.


CATF believes that partnerships between companies from China and the West are crucial to accelerating the commercialization of low-carbon coal-based energy generation.  The countries’ shared reliance on coal creates many challenges – along with some critically important opportunities.  Energy companies in North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia have enormous experience and expertise working with coal, and are similarly motivated to develop technologies and techniques that will preserve a role for coal in a carbon-constrained world.


Moreover, the environmental and economic benefits of transitioning to clean energy will be smaller and slower to materialize if Western and Chinese companies do not work together.  The climate challenge will be solved by multiplying opportunities for rapid development and deployment of low-carbon generating technologies, not by restricting engagement between companies in the world’s most dynamic economies.  Investments by one country reduce the cost of that technology worldwide, increasing the likelihood that CCS will be widely deployed in time to help avert the worst consequences of climate change.


CATF Assets


CATF’s China Project tackles this challenge with a staff of senior scientists, technology experts, lawyers, MBAs, economists, and public outreach professionals based in the US and China.  CATF also collaborates with dozens of internationally recognized technical, research, and economic consulting organizations.


The organization’s efforts in China are led by Ming Sung, CATF’s Beijing-based Chief Representative for Asia Pacific.  Sung is a long-term coal gasification expert, dating back to his work on US ERDA’s coal conversion program in the 1970s.  Sung managed the development of large petro-chemical projects for Shell, including a large project in Shanghai, and then helped expand AspenTech’s China-based R&D work on industrial process engineering simulation software.  Prior to joining CATF in 2008, Sung was the VP for technology at ENN Group, a dynamic privately-held China energy company.  Through his strong ties to key energy companies and policymakers in China and the US, Sung has been instrumental in the formation of several promising CCS-related joint ventures between firms in China and the West (described in more detail below).


CATF’s work has received favorable notice from state and federal decision makers, industry, and the media; we are frequently consulted by agencies and elected officials from across the political spectrum, and have been cited by The New Republic as a “respected” voice on clean air policy.


China Project Activity


The China Project at CATF builds on China’s current leadership in low-carbon coal technologies that will be essential to addressing climate change and energy security.  For example, the first commercial scale IGCC power plant with CCS, called GreenGen, is under construction in Tianjin and will feature gasification technology developed by the Thermal Power Research Institute (TPRI).  TRPI technology is also being used to retrofit a Shanghai power plant with one of the world’s largest post-combustion capture systems.  An underground coal gasification (UCG) pilot and commercial project (coal to methanol) built by ENN Group in Inner Mongolia is helping to demonstrate UCG’s ability to significantly lower the cost of coal-to-power with CCS.  Meanwhile, Shenhua Coal is developing a large-scale geologic carbon sequestration project at a new large coal-to-liquids plant in the Ordos Basin, and the East China University of Science & Technology has successfully licensed its gasification technology to Western project developers (as has TPRI).


Through an ongoing series of meetings, conferences, and briefings in the United States and China, CATF is working to familiarize key companies and institutions in the West with these kinds of projects and, more broadly, with the technological and industrial prowess found in the Chinese energy sector.  CATF’s efforts have also provided Western technology developers – especially those looking for opportunities to commercialize advanced gasification systems – with a platform for engaging potential Chinese partners. 


To coordinate these efforts, CATF founded the Asia Clean Coal Initiative (2007) and the Asia Clean Energy Innovation Initiative (2009).  ACCI and ACEII have hosted invitation-only Executive Roundtables in Beijing, Cambridge, Palo Alto, and Hangzhou, and have co-sponsored broader events in the US and China.  The Roundtables assemble the most innovative and entrepreneurial companies in the field, and have helped bring about several promising joint enterprises.


In November of 2010, CATF led a delegation of public, private, and non-government leaders from Texas, the Gulf States and Kentucky to China.  This visit focused on carbon capture storage (CCS) technology and policy through facility tours and meetings and was designed to promote exchanges between Chinese and American government officials and collaboration between Chinese and American companies.


The delegation included approximately 30 state elected officials and regulators, executives from energy companies and representatives from non-profit organizations.


This trip achieved several goals:

•              Helped to understand the vital role CCS will need to play in climate policies both in the US and in China.

•              Understand the availability, cost and reliability of Chinese coal and CCS technology, which is advancing at extraordinary speed.

•              Allowed US leaders to meet with Chinese energy companies and government officials to learn about China’s climate policies.

  • Opened the door to possible business-to-business facilitations among US-China companies that participated in the delegation trip. We have also created openings to policy makers about CCS that did not exist before.


This effort – building strategic cross-border partnerships that can reduce low-carbon coal technology costs and accelerate CCS deployment – is the crux of CATF’s China Project.  By combining the extensive work CATF has done envisioning and developing a pathway to widespread CCS deployment in the US with our substantial engagement with Chinese energy leaders (spearheaded by Ming Sung), CATF has played a key role in bringing about some of the most interesting recent ventures between North American and Chinese energy companies. 



These partnerships include:


AEP-Huaneng Power Group

  • AEP signed a cooperation agreement with China Huaneng, China’s largest power generation company, through which AEP, Huaneng, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Energy Administration of China will perform the initial evaluation of a post-combustion, advanced amine carbon capture technology developed by China Huaneng for power plant applications. Additionally, the two companies will share data about power plant operation efficiencies pioneered at both companies.

AEP-State Grid

  • AEP signed a cooperation agreement with State Grid Corporation of China, the largest utility in China, through which the two companies will jointly evaluate and potentially advance six transmission and distribution technologies, including ultra-high-voltage transmission equipment, advanced energy storage technologies, smart-meter technologies, and distributed generation technologies. Experts from each company will work together to research different technologies and share data about their performance. If the technologies prove feasible, the companies will explore potential fabrication and manufacturing in the United States.


Southern Company / KBR – Dongguan Tianming Electric Power Company 

  • Atlanta-based Southern Company will deploy the KBR-developed Transport Integrated Gasification technology (TRIG) in a commercial-scale coal gasification plant operated by Dongguan Tianming Electric Power Co. in China.  (Coal gasification systems, including integrated gasification combined cycle facilities (IGCCs), are particularly amenable to carbon capture and sequestration, because they separate the CO2 (along with several other pollutants) from the process stream prior to combustion.
  • The terms of the agreement include technology licensing, engineering, and equipment to use TRIG technology at a new 120 MW power plant.  Operation is expected to begin in 2011.


Duke Energy – ENN Group

  • The initial September 2009 agreement between Duke and ENN Group of China promotes joint technology development of a variety of technologies, from CCS-relevant systems including underground coal gasification to solar, biofuels, and energy efficiency.
  • In a follow-on agreement, ENN Group agreed to make capital investments in commercial solar projects operated by Duke Energy Generation Services.


ZEEP – ENN Group

  • Zero Emission Energy Plants Ltd. (ZEEP) and ENN Group reached an agreement in September 2009 to design and construct a commercial-scale power plant in Shandong Province featuring Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney’s Rocketdyne gasification system.


Future Fuels – Thermal Power Research Institute

  • Houston’s Future Fuels is the exclusive North American licensee of TPRI’s multi-stage, dry-feed, waterwall coal gasification system, which is also being installed at the GreenGen IGCC project in Tianjin. 
  • Future Fuels plans to use the technology at its Good Spring IGCC project in Pennsylvania, which it expects will deliver 270-megawatts of electricity while capturing over 50 percent of the CO2 output initially and nearly 100 percent by 2020.
  • The companies have also signed an agreement to share technical data from Future Fuels’ Good Spring plant and TPRI’s GreenGen facility.


Duke Energy – China Huaneng Group

  • Potential focus areas of technology-sharing MOU signed in August 2009 “include (1) clean coal power generation with the focus on IGCC and Ultra Supercritical power generation, (2) CO2 Capture and Sequestration (CCS) including Pre-combustion Capture, Post-combustion Capture, Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) and geologic sequestration, etc, (3) energy saving and emission reduction in coal-fired power plants, (4) renewable energy power generation including wind, biomass, solar and other energy sources.”
  • According to a Duke spokesperson, “We both have the scale and mass to push the global industry forward in the development of clean technologies.”


HTC PureEnergy – Suntracing Clean Energy

  • Canada’s HTC is working with Suntracing in China to demonstrate modular technology developed by HTC that uses CO2 captured from power applications to produce a fire-suppressing foam; the foam is then used to put out coal seam fires, which are common in China and a significant contributor to global CO2 emissions.


Duke Energy – State Grid Corp. (in negotiation)

  • Duke Energy and State Grid, China’s largest electricity distributor and one of the world’s largest companies in terms of revenue, are reportedly pursuing a partnership to build highly-efficient high-voltage transmission lines in the United States. 
  • The venture would also provide Duke with access to financing and to State Grid’s transmission technology and equipment, while State Grid will gain insight into the “smart grid” technology Duke is developing.


In addition to the project facilitation work described above, CATF frequently meets policymakers and key stakeholders in the US and China to discuss the opportunities associated with CCS-related joint ventures between companies in both countries.