Energy futureKing coal, II: Administration restructures approach to clean coal funding

Published 13 February 2008

DOE restructures FutureGen approach; under the new plan, DOE’s investment would provide funding for no more than the carbon capture and storage (CCS) component of the power plant — not the entire plant construction; the original 2003 FutureGen concept called for the federal government to cover 74 percent of the cost of the entire project; DOE requests $648 million in FY2009 budget for coal research, development, and deployment

We reported yesterday (HSDW 12 February 2008) that the Bush administration was ending its funding of the FutureGen clean cola project. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said it would be more accurate to describe the move as a restructured approach to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) FutureGen project, a project which aims to demonstrate cutting-edge carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at multiple commercial-scale Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) clean coal power plants. Under this strategy, DOE will join industry in its efforts to build IGCC plants by providing funding for the addition of CCS technology to multiple plants which will be operational by 2015. This approach builds on technological research and development advancements in IGCC and CCS technology achieved over the past five years and is expected at least to double the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered compared to the concept announced in 2003. Clean coal technology is a vital component of the Bush administration’s vision for a cleaner, more secure energy future and DOE says that this new, more cost-effective approach will demonstrate IGCC-CCS clean coal technology to enable wider use and commercialization more rapidly.

Bodman also announced President Bush’s budget request of $648 million for the DOE Office of Fossil Energy’s advanced coal technology research, development, and demonstration program for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009. The FY2009 budget requests $407 million for coal research — including development of more efficient gasification and turbine technologies, innovations for existing coal power plants, and large-scale CCS injection tests — and $241 million to demonstrate technologies for cost-effective carbon capture and storage for coal-fired power plants, including $156 million for the restructured FutureGen approach and $85 million for DOE’s Clean Coal Power Initiative. This $648 million request represents a $129 million increase from the president’s FY2008 request and is the largest amount requested for DOE’s coal program in more than 25 years. “This restructured FutureGen approach is an all-around better investment for Americans. As technological advancements have been realized in the last five years, we are eager to demonstrate CCS technology on commercial plants that when operational, will be the cleanest coal-fired plants in the world. Each of these plants will sequester at least one million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and help meet our nation’s rapidly growing energy demand,” Bodman said. “Coal is our nation’s most abundant energy resource powering over half of the homes in America.