"Clean Coal" Positioned To Be The High End Energy Product No One Can Afford


Taylorville Illinois Energy Center, a proposed "clean coal" power plant. Image credit:Illinois Times

Southern Illinois has vast, easily accessible coal reserves. That coal may be sulfurous and wet and salty; but ,Southern Illinois also has good geologic features for CO2 sequestration, plus Presidential root tendrils are there. These aspects explain, in a last-year kind of way, why Obama's Energy Department supports this $3.5 billion fantasy. (Several major conceptual design changes have been made since the Bush Administration version was announced in very different configuration, giving the Illinois Congressional delegation multiple incentives to scramble.) The Illinois Commerce Commission has studied the costs and benefits of the most current version of the project. The Commission's report is just out. They figure nuclear power is cheaper, for heaven sake.Here, from Pantagraph.com, is the money quote.

The Illinois Commerce Commission reported Wednesday that energy from a coal-fired power plant in Taylorville proposed by Tenaska and designed to reduce pollution would cost significantly more than energy from other sources. Here's a look at the numbers:

  • Wind: $88.80-$121.97 per megawatt

  • Nuclear: $101.45-$128.03 per megawatt

  • Traditional coal: $141.08-$153.03 per megawatt

  • Tenaska: $212.73 per megawatt


Source: Illinois Commerce Commission
RIP: Clean Coal.

As if we had to wait this long to see what any experienced process or environmental engineer knew 3 years ago. And I'm betting that the top end of the Taylorville IL project's preliminary engineering estimate does not include the capital and operating costs of piping supercooled CO2 to distant deep injection wells as would be needed for most existing, retrofitted coal-fired operations.

Update: here is the latest on the politics, the cost, and the technology in Durbin supports Tenaska project, via the State Journal-Register.

Tags: Clean Energy | Illinois

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