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The 1986-93 Clean Coal Technology Program

Begun in 1986, the Clean Coal Technology Program was the most ambitious government-industry initiative ever undertaken to develop environmental solutions for the Nation's abundant coal resources.

"The U.S. Clean Coal Technology Demonstration Program is the envy of the world."
Robert W. Smock
Editorial Director, Power Engineering

The program's goal: to demonstrate the best, most innovative technology emerging from the world's engineering laboratories at a scale large enough so that industry could determine whether the new processes had commercial merit.

Originally, the Clean Coal Technology Demonstration  Program was a response to concerns over acid rain, which is formed by sulfur and nitrogen pollutants that can be emitted by coal-burning power plants. Based on recommendations from Special Envoys appointed by the U.S. and Canadian governments, President Reagan commissioned the Clean Coal Technology Program as a cost-shared effort between the U.S. Government, State agencies, and the private sector. Industry-proposed projects were selected through a series of five national competitions aimed at attracting promising technologies that had not yet been proven commercially. 

A $3.7 Billion Investment in Clean Energy

Ultimately, 33 pioneering projects became part of the Clean Coal Technology Demonstration Program.

The federal government's funding share totaled $1.5 billion. The private sector, on the other hand, exceeded expectations, contributing $3.2 billion or nearly two-thirds of total project costs. The program had required only 50% non-federal financing.

Industry Responds

  • More than 55 individual electric generators serving 33 states participated in the 1986-93 program.
  • Participating utilities operate more than 170,000 megawatts, about 25% of U.S. capacity and consume 36% of U.S. coal production.
  • More than 50 technology developers and 30 engineering, constructing or consulting services have participated.

Learn More about the Clean Coal Technology Demonstration Projects