FutureGen gets new leader

THE FutureGen Alliance, developers of the world’s first near-zero emissions coal-fueled power facility, has selected managing director Kenneth Humphreys as its new chief executive officer.
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A vision of the Futuregen power plant, courtesy Department of Energy.

Donna Schmidt

Humphreys succeeds a retiring Michael Mudd, and will now lead the alliance as it restructures the partnership with the US Department of Energy and the State of Illinois to progress the carbon capture and storage technology project.

Involved with the alliance since its inception, Humphreys most recently was the group’s MD.

He has worked for more than two decades in the private and public sectors of the energy industry. During his tenure, Humphreys has also become a recognized expert in carbon capture and CO2 storage.

FutureGen Alliance board of directors chairman Steven Winberg said Mudd’s contribution to the project up to this point will be vital even as FutureGen moves in a new direction.

“It is absolutely essential that the world develop technology-based solutions that can enable the continued use of coal and cost-effectively reduce CO2 emissions. FutureGen 2.0 will help us do that," he said.

Mudd noted that the project’s new path would provide him the ability to look at other opportunities.

"DOE has proposed taking FutureGen in a new direction, and under the restructured program the alliance's focus will be more toward CO2 transport and storage and place the primary responsibility for the power plant under the leadership of a major utility,” he said.

“DOE's new direction is meritorious.”

In its new form, FutureGen 2.0 is set to become the world’s first large-scale oxy-combustion repowering project.

It will also create the first regional CO2 storage repository in the US using a pipeline hub infrastructure.

The alliance and the DOE announced their revamped plans in early August, when US Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Senator Dick Durbin announced $US1 billion in Recovery Act funding for its construction.

The funding was granted to the FutureGen Alliance along with partners Babcock and Wilcox, Ameren Energy Resources and Air Liquide Process and Construction.

FutureGen 2.0 is planned for Meredosia, Illinois, where it is estimated about 900 jobs will be created.

Meredosia is the home of Ameren’s 200-megawatt Unit 4, which the partners anticipate will be retrofitted and repowered with the federal funding.

“The plant’s new boiler, air separation unit, CO2 purification and compression unit will deliver 90 per cent CO2 capture and eliminate most Sox [sulfur oxide], NOx [nitrous oxide], mercury and particulate emissions,” the Department of Energy said earlier this year.

FutureGen 2.0 will replace the FutureGen project initially announced in 2003 and shelved last year.