Wednesday, January 30, 2008

FutureGen News

OK, I know I promised a piece on gas mileage, but breaking news takes precedence. Yesterday the DoE told Illinois congressmen that it planned to withdraw its financial support for FutureGen, a public/private partnership created to demonstrate a zero-emissions coal-fired power station.

The technology is called Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology. Coal is turned into hydrogen and carbon monoxide, the latter combined with steam to create more hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Power is produced by burning the hydrogen, creating water, while the carbon dioxide is sequestered underground.

The industrial partners have committed $400 million, and another $800 million was meant to have come from the DoE. I assume this $1.2 billion was meant to cover the cost, but now the budget seems to have gone up to $1.8 billion. The DoE seems to suggest that the cost increase may be related to the choice of site, in Mattoon, Illinois. Other prospective sites were in Texas.

Withdrawal of DoE support is a blow to our efforts to produce clean electricity. I am not sure that IGCC is the answer, but at least this project would have validated the technology. Don't expect FutureGen to throw in the towel just yet, however; American Industry tends to be more enthusiastic about clean power than the Federel Government. It is possible that the project might get reincarnated in Texas.

See for more information on FutureGen Industrial Alliance Inc.

Gas mileage tomorrow, barring the outbreak of World War III.

1 comment:

Tony Welsh said...

Not sure it's quite kosher for the first comment on my blog to be my own, but I feel like adding to yesterday's post by pointing out that my views seem to be vindicated. The Financial Times had three Op-Ed pieces today on the monetary and fiscal stimulus actions. While both IMF chief Strauss-Kahn and Martin Wolfe supported the measures, they both pointed out the dangers and said that it would be far better for demand to expand in the rest of the world. Wolfe (citing Fed governor Frederic Mishkin) listed what he called large dangers: the indefinite continuation of the low rate of US saving; loss of confidence in the dollar; much higher inflation; and another round of asset bubbles and credit expansion.

The third article, by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, says "as foreigners begin shifting out of dollars, we will no longer have access to cheap foreign goods and services."