Chu Entertains FutureGen Alliance

Potential Energy has learned that Energy Secretary Steven Chu met with representatives of the FutureGen Alliance today, reinforcing positive signals from Chu two weeks ago that the troubled project could be revived. The public-private partnership to prove the integration of carbon capture and storage and coal gasification technology was killed by the Bush Administration in January 2008 using what Congressional investigators have shown to be specious accounting.

In an email to TechReview today, Department of Energy press secretary Stephanie Mueller confirms that Chu and the Alliance had a “good discussion” and that the Secretary Chu “believes that the FutureGen proposal has real merit”:

Secretary Chu believes that investment in carbon capture and storage research and development is critical to meeting our energy and climate change challenges. Unfortunately, the prior Administration simply walked away from FutureGen after years of work … In the coming weeks, the Department will be working with the Alliance and members of Congress to strengthen the proposal and try to reach agreement on a path forward.

Continue reading “Chu Entertains FutureGen Alliance”

C-N Weighs in on FutureGen Confusion

Power industry webzine EnergyBiz Insider published the following commentary today from C-N’s editor. Call it one more attempt to clear away some of the dust kicked up by DOE’s efforts to restructure the FutureGen project:  

I’m glad you took up the Department of Energy’s reversal on the FutureGen clean coal project because there is considerable confusion surrounding its likely demise. The biggest misunderstanding concerns FutureGen’s place in the context of commercializing IGCC and carbon capture technology.

The Department of Energy rejected FutureGen in favor of investing the same funds to equip commercial coal-fired power plants – each of which would be larger than FutureGen – with the equipment to capture their greenhouse gas emissions. With over 40 IGCC projects in various states of development and technology for capturing CO2 at conventional coal plants improving rapidly, DOE will have no shortage of targets to choose from. And while the individual DOE projects may look smaller, the plants involved and the scale of the carbon capture are likely to be several times larger.

DOE now recognizes what gasification technology providers have been screaming for years: FutureGen set out to develop next-generation technology rather than applying commercially-ready technology, thereby miscasting carbon capture itself as a sort of technological moonshot. The best evidence of this remains Dakota Gasification, a 1970s era synthetic fuels plant that has been capturing its CO2 and selling it to oil producers across the border in Saskatchewan since the late 1990s …

… DOE’s rejection of FutureGen suggests that even Washington has realized that gasification and carbon capture are ready for action. While I applaud their reformulation of FutureGen, we’ll know they’re truly serious about seizing the opportunity inherent in existing technology when they institute the carbon caps or taxes required to make carbon capture pay.

See The Clean Coal Paradox for more.

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