There’s a bit of a cat fight going on in clean coal/carbon capture circles at the moment. In the red corner, the Department of Energy. In the blue corner, the FutureGen Alliance.The twosome had agreed to work together on a carbon capture and storage project, but earlier this week the DOE changed its mind and put forward a restructured plan with rising costs blamed for the volte face.The FutureGen Alliance was not best pleased with the DOE’s pronouncement and has put out this Fact Check.
DOE: Project costs have nearly doubled.FACT: Project costs have increased, but DOE’s share has not doubled—not even close. When President Bush first announced FutureGen, the DOE share was $800M. DOE’s current estimated share is $1.1B with the increase due to inflation. A White House Official agreed and was quoted in The New York Times on December 17, 2007, “…the market for steel, concrete and power plant components has ‘just gone through the roof globally’.” DOE’s contribution will be reduced by contributions from foreign countries. Additionally, the Alliance has offered to provide DOE with partial-to-full repayment to ease the final cost to the taxpayer. The costs are manageable. DOE: Financing part of FutureGen is inappropriate.FACT: DOE clean coal projects routinely involve financing. It is common practice for commercial plants to be majority financed and under DOE’s alternative plan, it is a near certainty that industrial partners will finance a major part of the project.Alliance member contributions, thus far, have been cash donations. The Alliance has told DOE that it still expects a majority of its contributions will come from cash donations. Proposed financing is small relative to traditional projects. The Alliance includes some of the world’s largest companies; DOE’s notion that they might default is nonsense. The Alliance has fulfilled all its responsibilities thus far.DOE: Wants iron-clad funding guarantees from industry.FACT: DOE is providing no guarantees for its own funding, which will be available on a year-to-year basis depending upon available appropriations.DOE: FutureGen, as configured, is “smaller-than-commercial-scale”.FACT: FutureGen is commercial scale. The facility will be built around a commercial-scale gasifier and commercial-scale frame 7 turbine.DOE: DOE’s alternative plan will sequester twice as much CO2 as the current project’s one million ton goal.FACT: The Mattoon site and FutureGen, as currently configured, can sequester approximately two million tons per year. The environmental impact statement considered as much as 2.5 million tons.