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Kentucky County Officials Select Site for $4B CTL Plant

Lexington Herald-Leader. Pike County, Kentucky, officials have selected a site for a proposed $4-billion coal-to-liquids plant. Pike County, situated in Kentucky’s eastern coalfields, is the six-largest county producer of coal in the US, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). In 2006, Pike County produced 25.773 million tons of coal, 2.2% of the US total.

After a yearlong, $850,000 study by Pike­ville-based Summit Engineering, paid for by the Kentucky Department of Energy and the Appalachian Regional Commission, [Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford] said the county plans to develop a facility that would produce 50,000 barrels of liquid coal a day.

Projected production cost is about $61/barrel.

Rutherford said the county would use federal and state grant money to put the basic infrastructure in place, including water and sewer, and the company chosen to operate the facility would pay for the rest.

Funding is not yet secured, although the project is being supported by the Governor and state representatives. There is no construction timeline, although once begun, the plant will take five to six years to complete. The county has received several proposals from interested companies, but has not yet reviewed them.

Other Kentucky coal-producing counties—Whitley and McCracken—are considering similar projects.



I suppose at $137/bbl it was inevitable (sigh). All we can hope for is that this will be a one-off to feed our legacy fleet as we transition to something better (before we pollute ourselves into an early grave)


This is why government needs to intervene via carbon tax or other way to encourage conservation and electrification.

The rising price of oil opens the possibility of a brilliant two-step: conserve energy and electrify transportation, and we'll huge technological advances, a healthier US economy, and a cleaner world.

However, at $61/bbl cost, no mining controls and no carbon tax, the "free market" response will be to derive fuel from coal.


This is a smart investment on behalf of Kentucky.....a great CTL plan to diversify our energy infrastructure.


Yes great investmnent indeed

twice the CO2 spewed in the atmosphere for the same driven distance than with petroleum, quite the right direction indeed, then we will ask china to reduce their CO2 emission.


$4e9/5e4 bbl/day = $80,000 to get one barrel/day.  A driver burning 500 gallons/year would have to put down $2600 just for the capital in the fuel plant, in addition to the input costs and operating expenses.

Hybrids look cheaper all the time.  IGCC for PHEV doesn't look bad either; assuming $1800/kW and 80% capacity factor, a driver covering 15000 miles/year at 250 Wh/mi would only have to lay out $963 for the powerplant, and at 25 million BTU/ton and 40% thermal efficiency the PHEV would only need 1.25 tons/year compared to CTL at perhaps 4.6 tons/year at 30 MPG.


WTF are you talking about.


assuming oil stays at $130 a barrel, payback would be in 3.2 years.. plus all the money that gets pumped into the local economy. Very sweet deal..


Please remember that as electrification grows - the fleet use of liquid fuel declines disproportionally. CTL's window is relatively small, lasting only while there remain PHEVs getting 100+ MPG.

Assuming twenty years of electrification - this plant will remain viable about fifteen years (20-5 years construction). Not all-perfect, but jobs and revenue to a rural area producing energy from domestic resources.


These plants should capture and sequester carbon so they don't make things worse relative to conventional fossil fuels. Otherwise, I would support a voluntary boycott of any major companies operating in the state of Kentucky, including the foreign automotive plants, with an exemption for hybrid and electric vehicles.


Umm, math issues. If the plant ran for one day then yes, it would cost 80k/barrel. Of course if you ran the plant for 15yrs (30yrs would be normal for this type of capital) as posted above until better tech made useless you would get $4e9/[5e4bbd*365d/yr*15yr]= $14.6/bbl (times interest with subs, add cost for downtime) so about $25/bbl for the capital. Which I would expect is included in the $61/barrel quoted in the article (unless govt quoting is followed). Math aside project still needs a use for CO2 waste stream, be creative.


What ever happened to dry ice??

Rod Clark

I know that Judge Rutherford has benn workig on projects like this for many years. and has the ability and a track record to prove that he can work with the people and companies to put a project like this in the record books around the world and to a successful completion
Rod Clark


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