Electric Power Research Institute
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|This article relies on references to primary sources. (February 2009)|
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) conducts research on issues related to the electric power industry in USA. EPRI is a nonprofit organization funded by the electric utility industry. EPRI is primarily a US-based organization, but receives international participation. EPRI's area covers different aspects of electric power generation, delivery and its use.
Following Senate hearings in the early 1970s on the lack of R&D supporting the power industry, all sectors of the U.S. electricity industry pooled their funds to begin an industry-wide collaborative R&D program. EPRI was established in 1973 as the Electric Power Research Institute. Created as an independent, nonprofit organization designed to manage a broad public-private collaborative research program on behalf of the electric utility industry, the industry’s customers, and society at large. EPRI’s creation was a recognition of the impact of electricity on modern life. The institute's research and development program spans every aspect of generation, environmental protection, power delivery, retail use, and power markets. EPRI provides services to more than 1000 energy-related organizations in 40 countries. It has more than 900 patents to its credit.
EPRI laid the groundwork in the 1970s for the use of power electronics in the utility system, sometimes known as FACTS (Flexible AC Transmission Systems), established the largest electric and magnetic fields health program in the world and has played a role in resolving scientific questions concerning potential links to cancer. EPRI is in the Advisory Council of the PHEV Research Center and created the world’s largest center for nondestructive testing, used first for nuclear inspection and now increasingly for internal diagnostics of fossil power plants and industrial systems.
Moderate Supporter of Clean Energy
EPRI champions the use of all generation technologies which are efficient, reliable, safe, and environmentally benign, but has concluded that coal and nuclear power will still supply two-thirds of our energy by 2050.
The organization sees renewables such as wind and biomass supplying only a quarter of the electricity in 2050, and predicts solar power will not play a significant role. “It just doesn’t enter into our equation,” said Revis W. James, in an April 2009 article in The New York Times Energy and Environment Blog.
EPRI developed a clean coal technology Roadmap, originally released in 2001. The Roadmap identifies a variety of research, development and demonstration priorities that if adequately funded and pursued, could lead to the successful development of a set of coal-based technologies that will be cost-effective, highly efficient and achieve near zero emissions to our air and water resources.
In mid-2005, the CURC, in cooperation with EPRI, began an update of the Roadmap, including a review of both the programs and technologies identified in the original Roadmap, as well as the costs, performance levels, progress achieved during the last several years and total projected costs to government and industry if the goals of the Roadmap are to be achieved. DOE was consulted on a provisional basis to review the revised document. The new CURC-EPRI roadmap, released in September 2006, defines the steps necessary to achieve near zero emissions from coal use, including the capture and sequestration of CO2, and suggests that the investment necessary to achieve the goals of the Roadmap is approximately $17.0 billion between now and 2025. This amount reflects both the federal and industry investment (traditionally, the Federal cost-share has been 80% for R&D projects and 50% for demonstration projects).
The CURC-EPRI Roadmap includes a technology development program for carbon management, defined as the capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide. The Roadmap targeted two approaches to carbon management: (1) higher efficiency; and (2) sequestration of CO2 in underground reservoirs. The cost of higher efficiency is contained within the power plant costs for both gasification and combustion based systems. The Roadmap separately identifies the cost of transport and injection (storage) in the carbon sequestration roadmap.
The goal of the CURC-EPRI Roadmap is to have, by 2025, new combustion and gasification based systems operating with carbon capture with an efficiency between 39% to 46% and a cost of electricity between 37 and 39 $/MW-hr. By 2025, the incremental cost to transport and sequester the CO2 is projected to be between 2 and 7 $/MW-hr.
In 2010, EPRI was part of a team to be awarded with Power Engineering magazine’s 2010 Coal-Fired Project of the Year. The project, “DryFining,” created a new technology for coal-firing power plants that improves fuel quality, decreases volatile gas emissions, and reduces a plant’s operating expenses and maintenance costs. The team was led by electric service provider Great River Energy of Maple Grove, Minnesota, and also included fluid bed dryer engineer Heyl & Patterson Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, Lehigh University’s Energy Research Center and engineering construction contractor WorleyParsons.