Monday, March 16, 2009

Obama administration may revive carbon-capture project

By RENEE SCHOOF, McClatchy Newspapers

As a candidate, President Barack Obama promised that his Department of Energy would work on a way for the United States to continue to get power from coal without dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The work is already under way, and has been boosted with $3.4 billion in the stimulus plan. The DOE is expected to announce soon whether it will use $1 billion of that money to revive FutureGen, a planned coal-fired power plant in rural Illinois that would be the first in the world to capture its carbon dioxide emissions and bury them deep underground.

Universities and businesses have been testing carbon capture and storage in other places, including Southern Co.'s project at a plant in Mississippi and research in oil and gas wells in Texas, but FutureGen would be the first commercial-scale demonstration.

Experts say that demonstrations such as FutureGen are needed to answer questions about what the best technology would be and how to lower the technology's cost so that it wouldn't result in much higher electricity bills.

The stakes are high, and so are the costs.

If the United States and international partners can find a cost-effective way to remove carbon from coal, the coal industry would be guaranteed a future even if the world takes steps later to prevent severe global warming. Finding the right technology, however, and proving that it can be widely used won't happen quickly or cheaply. …

Obama administration may revive carbon-capture project

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