FutureGen gaining steam

NINE states have shown interest in providing a home for FutureGen, the first proposed zero-emissions power facility worldwide, according to project leader the US Department of Energy.
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A vision of the Futuregen power plant, courtesy Department of Energy.

Donna Schmidt

The FutureGen initiative is a 10-year effort announced by President Bush in 2003 to integrate advanced coal gasification technology, hydrogen from coal, power generation, carbon dioxide capture and geologic storage.

The deadline for the project’s request for proposals, for which a total of 22 potential sites were submitted, was due March 24. Site locations were not disclosed.

FutureGen Industrial Alliance chief Mike Mudd said that although fewer actual proposed sites might go forward due to the anticipated lengthy, complex process, the group was happy with the initial interest received.

“The large number of notices of intent received is not surprising based on the importance that this project has regarding the future of coal and the interest expressed by many stakeholders in this very important project,” Mudd said.

Site-hosting proposals are now being accepted with a deadline date of May 4, part of what the alliance said is an “aggressive schedule” for the project, as it intends to design and commence construction of the plant within three years. Site selection is forthcoming, and 2012 has been set as the target date for commencing production.

FutureGen Alliance is made up of some of the largest industry companies in the world, including Anglo Coal, American Electric Power, BHP Billiton, the China Huaneng Group, Consol Energy, Foundation Coal, Peabody Energy and Southern Company. The partner companies are contributing up to $US250 million to help fund project development while the US Government is investing $US700 million.