Secretary of Energy
U.S. Department of Energy
FutureGen and Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum Initiatives
in Washington, DC
February 27, 2003
Welcome to the Department of Energy.
I am especially pleased that we have with us today representatives of governments that have been invited to work closely with the United States to help advance carbon sequestration technologies as a way to control and eliminate greenhouse emissions.
Thank you for coming. And thank you for your government's interest in this important undertaking.
Earlier today, Secretary of State Powell, EPA Administrator Whitman, Under Secretary of Energy Bob Card, Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, who is here with me today, and I met with President Bush. During our meeting we reported on the progress we are making to implement his plan to stabilize greenhouse gases using science, advanced technologies, and international cooperation.
The Department of Energy and the Department of State have been closely working on climate issues, and today we are pleased to make an important announcement concerning international climate cooperation.
To make this announcement, it is my pleasure to introduce Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky.
Secretary Dobriansky is the State Department's point person on climate change policy. In addition, she responsible for a wide range of issues including, human rights and democracy; humanitarian, refugee and population matters; as well as environmental and scientific issues. She is the U.S. government's special coordinator for Tibet. And she supervises our international efforts regarding women's issues and directs our efforts to combat trafficking in persons globally.
Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum
As Secretary Dobriansky explained, the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum will help unite interested governments and focus attention on the development of carbon sequestration technologies as a means of reducing greenhouse gases, both here at home and around the globe.
Such cooperative research and development projects avoid duplication of work, save money, and speed needed breakthroughs.
We at the Department of Energy know well the value of international partnerships to advance scientific knowledge and technology applications in the energy arena.
We are working with our international partners today, for example, to develop a Generation IV nuclear reactor with enhanced passive safety features and a simpler, more economical design. This new reactor will reduce waste and enhance safeguards against proliferation. The GEN IV program has been highly successful.
In the same vein, last November the Department of Energy sponsored a Global Forum on Personal Transportation. The forum brought together representatives from government, industry and academia to explore ways to apply advanced technologies, such as fuel cells, to the world's transportation challenges. Representatives from Japan, Germany, France, Belgium, India, China, Mexico, Canada, Austria and the Netherlands, as well as the United States, participated in this forum, which concluded a yearlong effort.
And just last month, President Bush announced that we will join the international science project known as ITER, which is designed to determine our capacity to produce useable energy from nuclear fusion - the process that powers the sun. Here again, international cooperation provides great promise toward a future of abundant energy, while significantly reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants.
By harnessing the world's best minds and resources, the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum will also speed the technological advances that are needed to eliminate greenhouse gas concerns.
The first meeting of the Forum is scheduled for June, here in our nation's capital. The Department of Energy will co-host the event with the State Department. Several governments have already committed to attending this ministerial level conference and many others have expressed interest in learning more about the Forum and its goals.
And we especially thank the officials who are here this afternoon, some of whom have expressed interest and support for this effort.
Carbon Sequestration and Hydrogen Power Plant
Today it is also my responsibility to announce another highly significant development in the field of carbon sequestration - one that has the potential to serve as a cornerstone of our new, international cooperative effort.
I am pleased to announce that the Department of Energy, with private sector and international support, will embark upon a $1 billion initiative to design, build and operate the first coal-fired, emissions-free power plant.
When operational, this plant - which we have named FutureGen - will be the world's cleanest, full-scale fossil fuel power plant. Using the latest technology, it will generate electricity, sequester greenhouse gases, and provide a new source of clean-burning hydrogen.
Rather than burning coal as today's conventional plants do, the approximately 275-megawatt FutureGen plant will turn coal into a gas and employ new technology to remove virtually all of the resultant air pollutants - sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury.
Carbon capture and storage technologies will be used to separate carbon dioxide from other gases. Once isolated, the carbon dioxide will be injected and permanently trapped in deep underground formations, such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs, unmineable coal seams, and deep saline aquifers.
The knowledge and experience we gain from the design and construction of the FutureGen plant will help turn coal from an environmentally challenging energy resource, into an environmentally benign one.
FutureGen will be one of the boldest steps our nation takes toward a pollution-free energy future. Virtually every aspect of this plant will be based on cutting edge technology. The plant will be a living prototype - a global showcase - testing and evaluating new technologies as they emerge from research and development.
Emerging technologies tested at the prototype plant could lead to future coal plants of unprecedented efficiency. We see the potential to push electric power generating efficiencies to 60 percent or more - nearly double the efficiency of today's conventional coal-burning plants.
The implications of such increases are tremendous. If we increase the efficiency of existing power plants by just 7 percentage points - a very modest goal considering they only operate at 33 percent efficiency today - we would eliminate the need for about 186 power plants and reduce emissions at the same time.
The development of carbon sequestration technologies is essential if the world is to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.
The International Energy Agency projects a 50 percent increase in worldwide coal use for electricity generation over the next quarter century, most of it in developing countries.
The fact that coal will be a significant world energy resource during the 21st century cannot be ignored or avoided. Coal is abundant, it is comparatively inexpensive, and it will be used, especially in the developing world.
Our challenge is to make sure that when it is used, it is clean and safe.
The FutureGen plant will pioneer carbon sequestration technologies on a scale that will help determine whether this approach to 21st century carbon management is viable and affordable.
And it will provide other benefits as well, including the production of hydrogen.
During his State of the Union Address, President Bush announced a groundbreaking plan to transform our nation's energy future from one dependent on foreign petroleum, to one that utilizes the most abundant element in the universe - hydrogen.
The concept for his initiative is simple, yet profound-create hydrogen fuel cell powered operating systems that can energize our cars, homes, and businesses.
The Department of Energy is leading this effort with the FreedomCAR and Hydrogen Fuel Initiatives. Through these public-private collaborative efforts, we hope to make the President's dream a reality - "that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen and pollution free."
But to achieve this goal we must first find cost-effective ways to produce hydrogen, which is four times too expensive today. Our goal for 2010 is to bring down the cost of the hydrogen equivalent of a gallon of gas to $1.50.
The way to do that is by developing diverse methods of production.
Today, most of our nation's hydrogen is produced from natural gas. But in that hydrogen is a byproduct of coal gasification, FutureGen will play a vital role in bringing about the hydrogen economy envisioned by President Bush because it will produce hydrogen from coal without harmful emissions.
In short, the FutureGen plant will help lead the nation to it's hydrogen future.
Private-sector involvement is an essential part of President Bush's Global Climate Change Strategy. The President has challenged our nation's businesses and industries to come forward and voluntarily make specific commitments to helping reduce greenhouse gas intensity.
The response to the President's challenge has been tremendous. Just recently, for example, the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, and Transportation, and the EPA announced the significant steps that major, energy-intensive businesses and industries are voluntarily taking to reduce greenhouse emissions.
And we look for that cooperation to continue as we invite our private-sector partners, especially those from the coal and electricity sectors, to join us in making FutureGen a success as well.
However, we envision FutureGen to be more than just a partnership between the U.S. government and the private sector. As I said earlier, it can be a cornerstone of our international cooperative effort to advance carbon sequestration technologies and maximize their application around the globe.
Other nations that are interested in these new technologies, including those that have expressed an interest in the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, will be invited to participate. We will be reaching out to encourage them to bring their nation's best minds and talent to this important initiative.
In addition, the Department of Energy will seek the involvement of the environmental community, state agencies, and research organizations.
The Bush Administration will continue to make investments in research and development for renewable energies, hybrid car technology, alternative fuels, lightweight materials and clean diesel. But these alone will not sufficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions given the world's growing energy demands.
It is, therefore, critical that we find new ways to produce clean, emission-free power from coal.
President Bush has challenged us to find ways to leapfrog the status quo and deliver affordable, abundant, and clean energy.
The Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum and FutureGen program that we have announced here today are important steps to answering the President's challenge.
I believe that President Bush's leadership and these initiatives will strengthen global economic growth; will expand trade and investment; and will ensure our generation lives up to its environmental responsibilities to future ones.
Thanks to increased international cooperation, the turn to market-based economies, and the great promise of today's and tomorrow's technologies, we are entering a world of almost limitless potential.
And projects such as these we announce today will help insure that we realize that potential.