Clean Coal: DOE Should Prepare a Comprehensive Analysis of the Relative Costs, Benefits, and Risks of a Range of Options for FutureGen
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Clean Coal: DOE Should Prepare a Comprehensive Analysis of the Relative Costs, Benefits, and Risks of a Range of Options for FutureGen

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    According to various energy experts, for the foreseeable future, because coal is abundant and relatively inexpensive, it will remain a significant fuel for the generation of electric power in the United States and the world. However, coal-fired power plants are a significant source of CO2 and other emissions responsible for climate change. Hence, for at least the nearterm, any government policies that address climate change will need to have a goal of significantly reducing CO2 and other emissions from coalfired power plants. While carbon capture and storage (CCS) is still in its infancy, it may be a promising technology to achieve these purposes. By integrating integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) and CCS technology at an operating laboratory host facility, DOE's original FutureGen program was intended to address significant technological, cost, and regulatory issues associated with the implementation of CCS at a new plant. Alternatively, the restructured FutureGen left open the possibility of successfully applying CCS technology to existing conventional, pulverized coal-fired power plants—an important goal in its own right, since those plants account for almost all of the coal-fired generating capacity in the United States and abroad. However, DOE's decision to restructure FutureGen and remove the program's emphasis on integrating IGCC and CCS technology was not well documented or explained, in light of the fact that DOE already had existing programs to address CCS at existing coal-fired power plants.
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