New King Coal
Coal has a reputation as the dirtiest fuel around, but the U.S. Department of Energy hopes to reinvent the stuff as clean energy by building an experimental, coal-fired, emissions-free power plant. The project, known as FutureGen, will be built within 10 years and will cost just 10 percent more than an ordinary coal plant to run, DOE officials predict. Currently, coal-fired power plants are responsible for about 40 percent of total global carbon dioxide emissions. “There is no doubt coal is going to be a principal fuel source in the 21st century,” said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who added that FutureGen would “help turn coal from an environmentally challenging energy resource into an environmentally benign one.” The project is expected to cost $1 billion, money that will be provided by the federal government, private companies, and cooperating nations. Some environmentalists expressed enthusiasm about the plan, but said cleaner coal plants would only work if use of the new technology is eventually mandated by the government.