The Fuel of Clean Energy
The Aurora Energy power plant is fueled by Alaska coal; the second most abundant coal resource in the world next to Russia. Of the resources available, only a small fraction (1/1700) is identified and recoverable at present, the most abundant energy resource found in Alaska. The state’s proven coal reserves are so vast that current coal demand could be met for hundreds of years, even if no additional coal resources were discovered.
But coal is an optimal resource for reasons other than supply reliability. The coal utilized by Aurora Energy has very favorable environmental properties. The plant is supplied with sub-bituminous grade coal from Usibelli Coal Mine (UCM), located approximately 115 miles south of Fairbanks near the community of Healy.
A Specific Kind of Coal
The coal mined near Healy is unique, due to a measured sulfur content that is lower than almost any coal found worldwide. Healy coal used in Interior Alaska is sub-bituminous with ultra-low sulfur content of 0.15 percent. In comparison, coal from the top coal-producing states in eastern and western U.S. average about 3 percent and 0.5 percent sulfur, respectively.
The ultra-low sulfur coal from UCM burns exceptionally clean, especially in power plants that are equipped with the latest emissions control technologies.