By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday awarded $1 billion for a revamped version of the FutureGen clean coal power project in Illinois.
The U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday awarded $1 billion for a revamped version of the FutureGen clean coal power project in Illinois, a carbon capture and sequestration scheme in Illinois that has languished in recent years.
The project, first conceived under the Bush administration, originally consisted of an experimental coal-fired power plant near Mattoon, Ill. whose carbon dioxide emissions would be stored underground.
But the Energy Department's latest announcement has altered the project's course, instead specifying the retrofitting of an existing, 200-megawatt plant in Meredosia, Ill. that belongs to Ameren Energy. In the new scheme, carbon dioxide will be piped from the plant to Mattoon for storage along 175-miles of new pipeline.
"Today's announcement will help ensure the U.S. remains competitive in a carbon constrained economy, creating jobs while reducing greenhouse gas pollution," U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement.
"This investment in the world's first, commercial-scale, oxy-combustion power plant will help to open up the over $300 billion market for coal unit repowering and position the country as a leader in an important part of the global clean energy economy."
The entire project is expected to cost $1.2 billion, with construction scheduled to begin this spring.
Fittingly, no completion date has been set.
At the center of the rethought project is a process known as oxy-combustion, in which pure oxygen, rather than air, is used to burn fuels such as coal.
The DOE explains the appeal:
Oxy-combustion burns coal with a mixture of oxygen and CO2 instead of air to produce a concentrated CO2 stream for safe, permanent, storage. In addition, oxy-combustion technology creates a near-zero emissions plant by eliminating almost all of the mercury, SOx, NOx, and particulate pollutants from plant emissions. The Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory studies have identified oxy-combustion as potentially the least cost approach to clean-up existing coal-fired facilities and capture CO2 for geologic storage.
The FutureGen project was originally intended to test a process called Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle, but other projects are already testing it, leaving the original FutureGen vision -- soon running way over budget -- without a reason to exist. (The Bush administration pulled the project's funding.)
FutureGen 2.0 will provide performance and emissions data for future commercial guarantees, as well as establish operating and maintenance experience for future large-scale commercial projects.
The ultimate goal? Advance carbon capture and storage methods to make the United States a world leader in the technology, the DOE says.
The $1 billion in stimulus funds will go to the FutureGen Alliance, Ameren Energy Resources, Babcock & Wilcox, and Air Liquide Process & Construction.
Aug 10, 2010
Ameren is the natural gas supplier which has repeatedly been convicted of defrauding its retail residential customers into signing predatory contracts via high pressure salesmen. Carbon is black gold when processed properly. Illinois desperately needs to escape from the clutches of the democrat party and the corrupt chicago style enforcers that make the laws there.
Clean coal is an oxymoron. It is vaporware. It does not exist!!! Get REAL!!! Photovoltaics are the future!!!
There are better uses for the $1.2 billion.The Chinese have retrofitted over 25 coal fired power plants from combustion to gasification to chemicals over the last 5 years. This allows for the ability make both power and chemicals. Burning coal is less efficient than gasification which could be used in a combined cycle plant. Which would operated at much higher efficiencies then coal combustion reducing CO2 produced to start. Gasification also would allow the production of chemicals at night when there is little need for electricity. Large thermal plants are horribly inefficient when turned down. I would be interested in knowing the total life cycle efficiency of this system when you consider the energy used to compress and move CO2 175 miles in a pipeline then compress to further to inject in the ground with no benefit. An excellent example of what we should be doing is the Great Plains Coal Gasification plant in North Dakota www.dakotagas.com. Next year will be the 50th year of operation for a company which converts coal to natural gas, ammonia, methanol and other products. It has captured and pipe lined almost 20 million tons of CO2 which is sent to Alberta for enhanced oil recovery, Thru revenue sharing, $1.3 billion of the initial $2.1 billion has been repaid to DOE for its investment. This approach is certainly better then combustion, give the $1.2 billion to company interested in matching it to make power and chemicals.