Caterpillar joins FutureGen Alliance

MINING equipment giant Caterpillar is the newest member of the FutureGen Alliance, helping further the proposed near-zero emissions coal-fired power plant in Illinois.
Caterpillar joins FutureGen Alliance Caterpillar joins FutureGen Alliance Caterpillar joins FutureGen Alliance Caterpillar joins FutureGen Alliance Caterpillar joins FutureGen Alliance

The Caterpillar 797 truck.

Donna Schmidt

“Caterpillar has long been committed to technologies and policies that slow, stop and reverse the growth of greenhouse gas emissions,” the company said.

“Joining the FutureGen Alliance further solidifies the company's global effort to promote sustainable development and reduce carbon emissions.”

Caterpillar vice-chairman Doug Oberhelman cited the importance of clean coal in the energy supply and security mix as well as environmental protection.

"This alliance recognizes the global nature of climate and energy challenges and will provide domestic and international communities the ground-breaking technologies to assist in the shared goal of reducing GHG emissions," he said.

Cat’s entry into the alliance follows power generator Exelon, which joined the alliance last week.

"In just a little over a week, the FutureGen Alliance has added another strong partner with a deep connection to Illinois," US Senator Dick Durbin said.

"Caterpillar will bring a great deal to the table as the FutureGen Alliance and the Department of Energy continue in the final stages of negotiations. I look forward to welcoming many new FutureGen Alliance members – from Illinois and around the world."

US Representative Timothy Johnson called the proposed project “long overdue” as he congratulated Cat on its move.

"We have been working toward this project for nearly seven years and this decision brings us one step closer to getting underway,” he said.

“Caterpillar has practically written the book on sustainable manufacturing – it’s a perfect fit."

Aside from Caterpillar and Exelon, other FutureGen Alliance members are Anglo American, BHP Billiton, the China Huaneng Group, Consol Energy, Eon US, Alpha Natural Resources, Luminant, Rio Tinto Energy America, Peabody Energy, PPL Corporation and Xstrata Coal.

The facility will use an integrated gasification combined cycle and will capture and store 90% of carbon dioxide emitted, sequestering it more than 1 mile underground in the geological sandstone reservoirs of Mt Simon.

Construction is anticipated to begin in 2010 with the plant fully operational by 2013, creating an estimated 1300 construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs.

It will produce 275 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 150,000 homes, as well as hydrogen for fuel-cell technology.

At a total estimated cost of $US2.4 billion, the Department of Energy’s contribution will be $1.073 billion – $1 billion of which will come from Recovery Act funds.

The FutureGen Alliance of coal producers and power utilities will foot an anticipated $400-600 million of the bill, based on a $20-30 million contribution each from 20 member companies.

The DOE said late last year it would support the alliance in efforts to raise additional non-federal funds, including options, while there were other plans to hold a residual interests auction in the late fall once the plant’s research was complete. Funding will be phased out and released as National Environmental Policy Act reviews are completed and conditions met.