It’s Official: FutureGen Clean Coal Project to Receive $1 Billion in DOE Funding


After nearly a decade of planning, the U.S. Department of Energy’s infamous FutureGen clean coal project is almost ready to be built in Illinois. And with a formal commitment for $1 billion from the DOE announced this week, FutureGen might just make it off the ground.

When the project was originally announced in 2003, it was supposed to feature a new 275-megawatt coal-fired plant in
Illinois that captures carbon emissions and buries them underground. That plan was scrapped in 2008, revived last year, and then changed–the new plan is to retrofit an existing plant in Meredosia that will pipe carbon
into a 175-mile pipeline leading to an underground storage site.

Ameren Energy Resources, Babcock & Wilcox, and Air Liquide Process & Construction will lead the construction process to outfit Ameren’s 200 megawatt coal-fired plant in Meredosia with carbon capture and storage technology. According to Amaren, the new setup will capture 90% of all CO2 emissions and eliminate most SOx, NOx, mercury, and particulate emissions. The construction process will also create 500 temporary and 50 permanent jobs.

Even with the confirmed DOE funding, there is plenty of work to be done before FutureGen can be built. Babcock & Wilcox, and Air Liquide Process & Construction are spending the next nine months working on engineering and design details for the retrofit. If that goes well, Amaren still needs to work on environmental studies for federal approval. And if that goes according to plan, FutureGen may finally go online in 2015. But if FutureGen finally makes it online, it will all be worth it–the project’s success could lead to retrofits of dirty coal-fired power plants across the country.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.