I’ve talked about the FutureGen clean coal initiative over the past couple of years as a promising method to produce hydrogen cleanly and capture the carbon. In December 2007, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that Mattoon, Illinois would be the home to the first prototype plant.
Yesterday, Energy Secretary Sam Bodman announced that FutureGen may have a different future than originally intended when the plan was formed in 2003. Bodman cites skyrocketing costs and new technology created since 2003 plus a new direction to spread parts of FutureGen over several states.
The skyrocketing costs are obvious. In December, when Mattoon received the nod for the project the costs quoted were $1.4 billion, up from the original $1 billion costs estimated in 2003. Bodman now quotes the cost at $1.8 billion and the price keeps going up so fast that the DOE website is still lagging behind stating the cost at $1.5 billion.
The people of Mattoon are naturally disappointed and one Chicago publication was even reporting a possible political angle that the President was unhappy that his home state of Texas lost out on the FutureGen project. But, politics aside, the FutureGen project in its restructured state is set to benefit several locations around the U. S. and most likely to a lesser scale, Mattoon, IL.
The DOE has stated that under the new plan, it may not fund the new integrated gasification and combined cycle (IGCC) technology, but will fully fund the carbon capture and storage (CCS) aspect of the plan. The carbon sequestration technology may be spread out to four or more coal-fired power plants in different states and this will have the quickest impact on reducing CO2 emissions in the fight against global warming.