Wednesday, February 4, 2015

FutureGen shut down - not Ohio, but interesting

Just after having written a piece for ANS on the future of nuclear in Illinois (which by the way is attempting to build a major grid interconnection with Ohio) and having read a bit about Illinois' plans to build next-generation clean coal, the clean coal project as it stood seems to have been dealt a death blow.

The concept was that carbon captured from the coal burning was to be stored in enormous underground geologic formations of sandstone that can hold the carbon for .. well, forever.  Thus, Illinois - which has a large amount of coal in state which many folks in many walks of life would like to use, for many varied reasons - would be able to continue to burn coal AND would have somewhere to put the captured carbon.

In this link we now see that the whole project has been defunded

So I offer this link not about Ohio, but about Illinois to ask you this question:  Since the project was killed only by the cancellation of US Dep't of Energy funding, is the Dep't of Energy essentially saying it's anti-coal?  Should we.... can we read that into this chain of events?

Does this mean anything for the future of potential clean coal plants in Ohio?  Well, if this is any indication, I am beginning to wonder myself.  After all, we expect .. and SHOULD expect .. Federal money to help develop the substitutes for the energy generation we are going to lose if the EPA Clean Power Rule works as (seems to be) planned to eradicate coal.  Coal  - and all that goes with it, including coal miners, railroaders, utility men - would rather not see this all just get suddenly shut off.  (Although I might note that the railroads are still gridlocked, and the removal of coal from their rails would not necessarily bankrupt them.)  So the Federal government can't just "taketh away and taketh away," leaving us with higher power prices, brownouts or blackouts and loss of lots of jobs.

There are people out there who believe that this sort of thing isn't just happening in a vacuum.  There are those who are asserting that the Administration and the EPA have a clear cut policy to rapidly drive out coal, and drive up energy prices.  The latest weapon, as asserted in the previous link?  Highway funding.  If you can believe that.

So now that we see the larger scheme, is it any wonder DOE cut off funding for advanced coal generation research and development?  Lots to think about.

February 4, 2015

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