FutureGen 2.0 site selection begins

THE developers of the world’s first planned near-zero emissions coal-fueled power facility, FutureGen, have released the specifications of what will become the hometown of the project’s carbon dioxide storage site.
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An artist's impression of the Futuregen Power Plant, courtesy the Futuregen Alliance.

Donna Schmidt

The hub will receive and store CO2 emissions from a power plant in Meredosia, Illinois, via pipeline, and that facility will be repowered using oxy-combustion technology.

The location chosen for the hub will also serve as host to FutureGen’s visitor, research and training facilities.

"The Alliance is working with the project partners on an aggressive timeline to bring this facility online,” FutureGen Alliance chief executive officer Kenneth Humphreys said.

“We are releasing the guidance so that prospective site offerers can begin now to evaluate the opportunity, form proposal teams and acquire the resources, data and documentation that will be required for the competitive site selection process."

The group will release a request for proposals later this month to solicit interest from potential hosts.

Responses will be due back to the project’s developers within about three weeks and they will start evaluating sites this fall.

Humphreys said the company hopes to announce the selected site in early 2011, and intends to hold at least one public hearing to explain the process and take input.

The site will be subject to environmental evaluation by the US Department of Energy in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, and will be fully permitted by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The site must also be able to meet the minimum requirements for FutureGen’s technical specifications, including access to the Mt Simon sandstone in Illinois.

“The alliance's site selection decision will also consider other factors such as the protection of environmental resources and human health and safety, cost minimization, and the ability to meet the design and construction schedule,” the alliance official said, adding that local community support for the site would be a critical factor in its final selection.

US Senator Dick Durbin said that FutureGen, which has made notable progress in the past several weeks since being revamped earlier this year, said the RFP was an opportunity for Illinois communities to be a part of a landmark clean coal technology effort.

"Under this competitive process, interested communities that meet the selection criteria will have a fair shot at hosting the CO2 storage hub, visitor’s center, research site and training facility,” he said.

“These facilities will create economic development, provide good-paying jobs and attract researchers and visitors from around the world.”

The construction of FutureGen 2.0 is supported by a $US1 billion federal funding commitment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Last week, the FutureGen Alliance signed a $US533 million cooperative agreement with the US Department of Energy.

Under the deal, the former will maintain primary management responsibility and work along with Ameren Energy Resources to site, develop, and operate a permanent CO2 storage site, along with facility’s pipeline.