The site should accommodate multiple generating units, covering more than 1,000 acres to provide buffer zone between the plant facilities and nearby communities. Preferred project location is West Range Plant Site, Greenfield which is designated for auxiliary mining purposes ("Area Definitions"). The main objective for this site is due to Iron range that is only about 70 miles northwest of Duluth near Taconite and Bovey. Other than this, natural gas pipelines, high voltage transmission line corridors and viable rail service are also the deciding factors. An alternate site is also under consideration, located in the east range plant site; which is closer to Hoyt Lake iron range, about 50 mile north of Duluth and has access to water as well as feed-stock transportation option ("Minnesota Hydrology Guide", 1992). An estimated total project costs approximately $1.97 Billion, Department of Energy share is $36 Million. It is expected to complete construction work by 2011 and after that within one year to start its operation. The main attributes to this project are, 2005 Energy Policy Act that provides loan guarantees, legislatively mandated PPA with Northern States Power (A3/BBB-), Regulatory incentives and exemption from certificate of need, Public support and large demand in market, and fuel flexibility or lowest-cost fuel ("Mesaba").
MEP: From Coal to Technology
Project is supposed to be designed with a thought as fuel efficient where primary material is coal; a small statistic outlines the fuel compositions which can be used interchangeably; 100% coal including Powder River Basin sub-bituminous and Illinois No. 6 bituminous coals, up to 1:1 ratio of coal and petroleum coke blend and petroleum coke. A group of MIT studied on role of coal to lessen its effect on global climate change. They came up with a result that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology can reduce carbon dioxide emission to a significant amount without hampering its energy output requirement. According to Dr. Deutch:
As the world's leading energy user and greenhouse gas emitter, the U.S. must take the lead in showing the world CCS can work. Demonstration of technical, economic, and institutional features of CCS at commercial scale coal combustion and conversion plants will give policymakers and the public confidence that a practical carbon mitigation control option exists, will reduce cost of CCS should carbon emission controls be adopted, and will maintain the low-cost coal option in an environmentally acceptable manner.
Coal is a low cost and its usage is increasing day by day. So using coal directly without CCS will affect the climate directly leading to a global change. CCS enables coal to meet its energy criteria in future and in parallel saving the atmosphere from CO2 emissions as coal contains a high carbon percentage ("Future of Coal", 2007). Fuel gasification is done first which is a process of converting coal, petroleum coke etc into gaseous state from solid one. It is similar to natural gas and used for electric power generation. The gasification process that MEP will use is ConocoPhillips' E-Gas technology. Raw materials are first crushed and slurry is formed which is pumped