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This undated photo shows a plant that processes raw coal and coal waste to produce char, which can be burned in coal-fired power plants with a 75% reduction in pollution, according to Blue Sky Energy Corp, based in South Ogden.
Photo provided, Blue Sky Energy Corp.
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In this September 26, 2011 file photo, raw coal from a coal mine is dumped from a conveyor belt, near Trinidad, Colorado.
Mark Reis, The Colorado Springs Gazette via AP
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Alan Hall, President of Prosperity 2020 and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Weber State University, speaks during a press conference aimed at improving college graduation rates, at the State Capitol in L Utah on Tuesday, December 16, 2014.
Standard Examiner File Photo Becky Wright
SOUTH OGDEN — It’s not exactly a green revolution, but the CEO of a new Utah company says there’s a lot of societal value in making a variety of far cleaner uses of coal and waste of coal.
A processing plant, slated to open next month in Carbon County, could lead to a global metamorphosis toward environmentally optimized coal products, developers say.
Consider coal waste, the parts of raw coal that power plants can’t use, said Alan E. Hall, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur who started MarketStar in Ogden 34 years ago and other businesses since. .
“There’s 60 billion tons of coal waste on the planet, and that waste is polluting the ground, the water supply, it’s catching fire,” Hall said in an interview this week. “We see many thousands of factories around the world ingesting this waste, cleaning it up and making non-fuel burning products out of it.”
Hall, of Roy, is CEO of Blue Sky Energy Corp., which launched this month. Its first plant, in the Price area in the heart of Utah’s coal country, will produce charcoal, crude oil and natural gases by the first of the year, Hall said.
Renuva Energy Corp. of Salt Lake City developed the patented technology that Hall’s company licensed to build the network of processing plants. “He has tremendous resources and a great team to really push this stuff forward,” said Steve Savage, CEO of Renuva.
Hall said Blue Sky works with coal mining companies to supply coal and coal waste to power plants and that the company is approaching PacifiCorp as a potential buyer of coal to burn at its coal-fired power plants. Crude oil output will be sold to refiners, such as Chevron Oil, and much of the natural gas from the processes will, he said, be used to fuel Blue Sky power plants.
A plant will be able to ingest 75,000 tonnes of waste coal annually, generating more than 24,000 tonnes of industrial-grade charcoal, 187,500 barrels of crude oil and volumes of commercial gases, including butane, methane and propane, according to Blue Sky projections.
“We have enough funds to build 2,000 factories,” Hall said. The company plans to open 300 plants across the United States within five years and another 1,200 in coal-mining countries around the world.
“We’ll make money on this, but our goal is to be charitable, to bring this back to depressed and impoverished mining communities,” Hall said.
Shanny Wilson, director of economic development and tourism for Carbon County, said locals are excited about the Blue Sky project. “We think this is going to benefit our economy tremendously,” she said. “I feel like this will open doors for economic growth and job opportunities.”
Blue Sky is advertising workers at the plant, and Hall said it has hired 12 executives to handle planned domestic and global rollouts.
“At a high level, the big point here is that we don’t have enough green power to sustain us in the economy — we’re not there yet,” Hall said. “What we’re doing is a tentative, temporary thing until we find other, better ways to generate energy to replace fossil fuels,” Hall said.
Coal is abundant around the world and the mining infrastructure will persist for decades, Renuva said. According to Renuva, Renuva and Blue Sky can have an immediate impact on the environment by implementing cleaner processes and boosting home energy production in any coal-producing country.
Savage said Renuva’s approach has gone through headwinds, resulting from unsuccessful or dishonest “clean coal” ventures elsewhere. “So many companies say they’ve been the ‘clean coal’ solution, but they’ve given clean coal a bad name,” he said.
But Renuva and Blue Sky’s operations will be “nearly 100% emissions-free”, he said. “We do this without putting anything in the air.
“So when people ask, ‘Can clean coal work,’ yes, we have a verified process,” Savage said. Plus, there’s no downside and plenty of incentive for everyone to deal with “mountains and mountains and mountains of coal fines that you can’t do anything with,” he said.