As follow-up to my post yesterday: There is now a bidding war emerging for the FutureGen clean coal plant, targeted to cost $6500/kW. Texas and Illinois are fighting to win this fantastic prize. If they get it, they’ll ensure they can keep burning coal, but will do it in a plant that is absurdly expensive.

As a fringe benefit, they’ll generate hydrogen (aka, a fuel that no one is presently demanding for their vehicles), on the off chance that if a market arises they can sell it. Goodness knows they’ll need it if the coal plant is ever going to pencil out.

Presumably, this is a better idea than investing in more cost-effective renewable/cogen/efficiency projects that would actually produce a product people want.

See an article from Restructuring Today, “Illinois works hard to win FutureGen clean coal/hydrogen plant” ($ub req’d), below the fold:

Wisconsin supports siting a $1.4 billion FutureGen Industrial Alliance power and hydrogen production plant in Illinois, wrote Gov James Doyle, D, in a letter to Illinois officials.

FutureGen is developing the facility for the DOE.

Illinois worked for about four years to bring FutureGen to fruition and a decision is expected by the end of the year.

“Projects like FutureGen create an exhilarating opportunity for new regionalism,” said Doyle. “We feel strongly that the evolution of cleaner coal technologies will be of vital importance to the nation and specifically the Midwest — and we enthusiastically back the important research that would be conducted at an Illinois FutureGen plant.

FutureGen is designed to be the cleanest fossil fuel-fired power plant in the world.

The facility would convert coal into hydrogen and power while capturing and storing the carbon dioxide deep underground.

“Midwestern states have demonstrated a strong commitment to converting to cleaner energy sources, technology advancement and energy conservation — and Illinois’ competitive bid to host a FutureGen project and maximize its geologically ideal sites for such a project is an important demonstration of this commitment,” said Doyle.

It’s expected this effort will lay the groundwork for developing similar power plants around the country and provide a framework for new energy projects that capture, rather than release greenhouse gases.

Wisconsin is hoping to win the plant and, like most of its neighbors, relies heavily on coal. Over 70% of its power is from coal, said the Center for Energy and Economic Development.

FutureGen will serve as a prototype for the next generation of safe and affordable coal-fueled power plants, said Wisconsin officials.

Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania are backing Illinois.

FutureGen plans to produce 275 mw of power plus hydrogen for fuel cell technology to serve as the next generation “battery” to run everything from computers to cars.