Future Cloudy For FutureGen?

It seems FutureGen’s clean coal announcement last week was a bit premature. The Department of Energy (DoE), the main financier of the $1.8 billion clean coal project, has released a statement questioning the cost of the project. FutureGen plant is coal powered, but it would emit no carbon dioxide because it would trap the greenhouse gases, store them underground using experimental technologies.

The statement has blindsided FutureGen’s carbon capture and sequestration hopes. The release says the DoE has been discussing the project’s cost with FutureGen for months. DoE wants a reassessment of the projected cost overruns and wants to see a “restructuring” in FutureGen.

“DOE believes that the public interest mandates that FutureGen deliver the greatest possible technological benefits in the most cost-efficient manner,” James Slutz, the DOE’s acting principal deputy assistant secretary, said in the statement.

FutureGen CEO Mike Mudd told the AP that “every month of delay can add $10 million to the project’s cost, solely due to inflation.” Uncertain of their next step, FutureGen’s project will hang in limbo until next month when the DoE said it will issue further details on the project’s status.

Additionally, the DoE issued a not-so-subtle reminder that the new plant has not yet been green-lighted as the DoE has yet to issue a Record of Decision approving the site. This could be a huge blow to FutureGen and does not bode well for clean coal technology on the whole.

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