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Department of Energy Takes Another Step Forward on FutureGen Project in Mattoon, Illinois

July 14, 2009 - 1:00pm


Washington, D.C. - The Department of Energy today issued a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Record of Decision to move forward toward the first commercial scale, fully integrated, carbon capture and sequestration project in the country. The Department's decision is based on careful consideration of the proposed project's potential environmental impacts, as well as the program goals and objectives.

"The carbon capture and sequestration technologies planned for this flagship facility are vitally important to America and the world," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "This step forward demonstrates the Administration's commitment to developing clean energy technologies, creating jobs, and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases."

The Record of Decision and a cooperative agreement signed by DOE and the FutureGen Alliance allow the Alliance to proceed with site-specific activities for the project. Over the next eight to ten months, the Alliance will complete a preliminary design, refine its cost estimate, develop a funding plan, expand the sponsorship group, and, if needed, conduct additional subsurface characterization.

Following these activities, which will be completed in early 2010, the Department and the Alliance will decide whether to continue the project through construction and operation. Both DOE and the FutureGen Alliance agree that a decision to move forward is the preferred outcome and anticipate reaching a new cooperative agreement for the full project. Funding will be phased and conditioned based on completion of necessary NEPA reviews.

The Department of Energy's total anticipated financial contribution for the project is $1.073 billion, $1 billion of which would come from Recovery Act funds for carbon capture and sequestration research. The FutureGen Alliance's total anticipated financial contribution is $400 million to $600 million. The total cost estimate of the project is $2.4 billion, consequently, the Alliance, with support from DOE, will pursue options to raise additional non-federal funds needed to build and operate the facility, including options for capturing the value of the facility that will remain after conclusion of the research project, potentially through an auction of the residual interests in the late fall.

When fully operational, the facility will use integrated gasification combined cycle technology with carbon capture and sequestration into a deep saline geologic formation. It will be designed to capture 90% of the carbon emissions by the third year of operations but may be operated at 60% capture in the early years to validate plant integration and sequestration capability. This technology should sequester one million tons of CO2 annually when it reaches full commercial operations.