Consortium to build FutureGen oxy-combustion power plant

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The US government has committed $1bn (£630m) in Recovery Act funding to a consortium of companies to build FutureGen 2.0, the world’s first coal-fuelled, near-zero emissions power plant.

Energy secretary Steven Chu and senator Dick Durbin announced the funding for the FutureGen Alliance, Ameren Energy Resources, Babcock & Wilcox, and Air Liquide Process & Construction to build the plant.

The project partners estimate the programme will bring 900 jobs to Illinois and another 1,000 to suppliers across the state. 

Chu said: ‘This investment in the world’s first commercial-scale oxy-combustion power plant will help to open up the more than $300bn market for coal unit repowering and position the country as a leader in an important part of the global clean energy economy.’

With the funds the consortium partners will repower Ameren’s 200MW Unit 4 in Meredosia, Illinois, with advanced oxy-combustion technology, which burns coal with a mixture of oxygen and CO2 instead of air to produce a concentrated CO2 stream for permanent storage.

The plant’s new boiler, air separation unit, CO2 purification and compression unit are expected to deliver 90 per cent CO2 capture and eliminate most SOx, NOx, mercury, and particulate emissions.

According to the US Department of Energy, the project will provide performance and emissions data for future commercial guarantees, and establish operating and maintenance experience for future large-scale commercial projects. 

The FutureGen Alliance will help design the test program for the new facility to incorporate a range of coals and operating conditions to expand the market for this repowering approach.

In addition, the project partners, working with the state of Illinois, will establish a regional CO2 storage site in Mattoon, Illinois, and a CO2 pipeline network from Meredosia to Mattoon that is estimated to transport and store more than one million tons of captured CO2 per year. 

The Mattoon site will be used to conduct research on site characterisation, injection and storage, and monitoring and measurement.