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DOE to Invest Approximately $1.3B to Commercialize CCS Technology in Revamped FutureGen Program

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to invest in multiple commercial-scale Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) or other advanced coal power plants with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology under the Department’s restructured FutureGen program. (Earlier post.)

The solicitation is seeking multiple cost-shared projects to advance coal-based power generation technologies that capture and store the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). The Department anticipates $290 million will be available for funding of selected projects through fiscal year (FY) 2009 and an additional $1.01 billion is expected to be available in subsequent years, subject to appropriations by Congress.

DOE scuttled its original concept for the FutureGen project in January. The original $1.5 billion plan would have resulted in the construction and operation of a prototype 275 MW plant that would co-produce electricity and hydrogen from coal with essentially zero emissions, including carbon dioxide emissions, which would be captured and sequestered.

DOE says that its new approach responds to changing market conditions for advanced coal technology, as well as efforts to limit taxpayer exposure and maximize the federal government’s investment. The restructured approach aims to accelerate the near-term deployment of advanced clean coal technology by equipping new IGCC or other clean coal commercial power plants with CCS technology.

Functional requirements for the demonstration projects include:

  • The demonstration project (including the power plant site(s), the saline formation sequestration site(s) and plume) must be located in the United States;

  • At least 75% of the energy must be from US coal. Coal is defined as anthracite, bituminous, subbituminous, lignite, and waste coals;

  • The Demonstration Unit must be designed, constructed, and operated (on an annual average basis) with at least 50% of the energy output of the energy conversion system (e.g. gasifier or alternative technology) used to produce electricity and, for a gasification-based project, produce at least 300 MW gross electricity output and at least 250 MW net electricity output. For a non-gasification project, it must be a commercially viable site;

  • The project location must be consistent with adequate feedstock availability, market for products, and proximity to geologic formation(s) for sequestration (e.g., deep saline formations, depleted oil and natural gas reservoirs, unmineable coal seams, or other formations);

  • Startup of operations of the Demonstration Unit must occur no later than 31 December 2015; and

  • The Demonstration Unit must:

    • Achieve a minimum capture rate of 81% of carbon content in the syngas or flue gas;

    • Sequester CO2 at an expected rate to achieve at least 1 MMT/yr in saline formation(s);

    • Sequester the balance of captured CO2 (in excess of 1 MMT/yr) either in a saline formation or other formation that provides for permanent storage (e.g., enhanced oil recovery or coal bed methane recovery applications);

    • Remove at least 90% of the mercury emissions based on mercury content of the coal;

    • Remove at least 99% of the sulfur emissions based on sulfur content of the coal, or if a project cannot achieve 99% due to the low sulfur concentration in the coal then it must achieve sulfur emissions of less than 0.04 lbs/million Btu;

    • Reduce NOx emissions to less than 0.05 lb/million Btu; and

    • Reduce particulate emissions to less than 0.005 lb/million Btu.

By funding multiple projects DOE expects at least to double the amount of CO2 sequestered compared to the amount under the original FutureGen concept announced in 2003. When these plants are operational, they will be the lowest-emitting coal-fired power plants in the world—each capturing and storing an expected 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

DOE also includes in the FOA monitoring and verification performance requirements for FutureGen projects, including quantifying and assessing CO2 capture, transport, and storage during a 3-5 year demonstration of at least one million metric tons of CO2 injected per year in a saline formation; monitoring and reporting to DOE the plumes of injected CO2 for a minimum of two years after cessation of the injection demonstration; and developing information necessary to estimate costs of future CO2 management systems.

The Administration’s FY 2009 budget request of $648 million for low-emitting coal research, development and deployment represents the largest amount requested for DOE’s coal program in more than 25 years and builds on more than $2.5 billion invested to advance such coal technology since 2001.




How about retrofitting combined cycle systems to existing natural gas fired turbine generators. They would capture and utilize waste heat to produce electricity and thus increase efficiency (from 35-40% to 55-60%). Then use the increased electric production to offset closing the least efficient coal fired plants.

NYC already has 1GW of capacity from combined cycle power plants (gas turbine+steam turbine, not including plants that also provide steam from waste heat for the steam system).

tom deplume

What they have done is cut $200 million from the project and greatly delayed its implementation. Throwing away all the engineering work already done for the previous FutureGen project was a big mistake. We must now wait for new proposals to be designed, submitted, and debated for several more years before the first shovel of dirt is dug.
The most cost effective way to sequester carbon is to leave the coal in the hole and the oil in the soil.


Why was FutureGen project canceled? It was pork barrel politics.

From this Boston Globe article …

“The Department of Energy said it withdrew its 75 percent support from FutureGen last month because its cost had almost doubled, from $1 billion to $1.8 billion. Some have suggested the real motive might have been lingering opposition to the choice of Mattoon by administration officials from Texas, which lost out in the selection process. A former aide to a Texas congressman who is now an Energy Department official, C.H. "Bud" Albright, has said the department axed FutureGen because it was not interested in "building Disneyland in some swamp in Illinois."

The problem here is not technology but myopic politics. I will be waiting to see if the project goes to Texas.


Everything done until the next President is sworn will be called political and corrupt by unnamed sources.

How much do we really know?

1) DOE pulled out. They cited cost increases.

2) The cost had been going up. Was it due to technical problems or poor management or ???

3) Was real progress being made?

4) The other partners vowed to keep going. Have they? Or was that lip service? What can we learn from their reactions?


allen xl

Your proposition makes too much sense, would be too easy to implement and would not cost enough to generate the funds required to .......


It was pork barrel politics.

Is there another kind of politics?

"building Disneyland in some swamp in Illinois."

Hey, I grew up one town over from Mattoon. We didn't like them that much, but it's hardly a "swamp"..

Futuregen costs doubled for the same reason non-CCS coal plant costs are doubling, along with nuclear, wind farms, etc. China is soaking up all the raw materials which used to be "ours".


"It don't matter what we do to restrict CO2; It's Chinese and indian cool. They will produce 5 times more CO2 then the Kyoto Accord covers"

Fareed Zakaria

stas peterson

The old Future Gen was another set of "pilot sub-sized demonstrations".

Translation: "earmark" boondoggles that are not CCS facilities but little playthings. Once built & tested, they are never used again.

Simply building a IGCC commercial plant with a real-sized ie "Commercial sized" CCS, will not only get a CCS in action, for testing. It might actually be used for the life of the plant,reducing CO2 out by some more than 15-20%.

But many of you don't see the benefit of simply replacing an old coal plant with a IGCC coal plant.

First the IGCC wil be cleaner by 100% or more, as it will have real emission controls. The air get cleaner. Thanks to the good intentioned, but actually stupid Carter do-goodism rules, there are still many old coal plants that have no emissions controls whatever.

Carter said if you make a major repair, you must equip it as good as the best available emissions system. The predictable result? The Utilities did nothing for their oldest, dirtiest, plants whose useful lives were nil, and installed no emission controls, at all.

Then retarded eco-greens forced them to scrap the Nukes being built, to replace the old smokers, and the Utilities said, it'll last for a few more years, then later, a half decade more; and then later, maybe a decade or two more.

But that is not the only benefit, to be had. An IGCC coal plant is 15-20% more thermally efficient. For the non tech, that means they get 15-20% more electricity out, for the same amount of coal going in.

Also the CO2 similarly decreases in the same proportion, so CO2 goes down by 15-20%, even without CCS.

So simply replacing an old coal; with an IGCC coal plant gives you a lot. Not to mention helping to drive down costs as more IGCC installations can help amortize the development costs.

richard schumacher

Replacing old coal plants with new ones is a waste of time and money because it will never be possible to capture and permanently sequester CO2 on the scale required to halt global warming. We should instead replace old coal plants with nuclear.

stas peterson

@ ricjhard,

Philisophically I agree. I would much rather they built Gen III+ LWR plants than new IGCC plants as replacemntents. But either si better than doing nothing a) leting the old smokers continue to run or b) investing in solar boondoggles that present al kinds of unacknowledged AGW problems, like albedo alteration, effecting local climates; but also including thermal pollution.

Windmills are alright except that the capital cost must be recovered in their tiny lifetimes of 9 years or so; and they just don't produce much power for the resources they consume: land, steel, cement etc.


If you want to build nuclear, please don't ask tax payers to pay for it.

After 60 years of massive funding it's about time for nuclear to walk on its own feet.

And nuclear power plants do affect local climates with their cooling towers.

And wind turbines have a lifetime of at least 20 years and generate the energy needed for their production in 4 month.
And thinfilm photovoltaics generates the energy needed for its production in less than 1 year with a lifetime of over 20 years. In addition PV as opposed to nuclear can easily be placed on existing roofs.

Just because you believe in the holy nuclear god, there is no absolutely reason to lie.


"It don't matter what we do to restrict CO2; It's Chinese and indian cool. They will produce 5 times more CO2 then the Kyoto Accord covers"

So, is doing nothing a valid solution? The effects of global warming are the most severe in poor countries. If the rich countries (which have emitted without any restrictions for the past 50-75 years) do not help the relatively poorer countries in setting their priorities right, it is going to exacerbate the problem.

BTW, Indian coal resources are not as extensive as China/US. India continues to import non-coking coal for power production.

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