Planned since 2003, a coal-fired Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) electrical generation plant was to be built in Mattoon, Ill., at a cost of $2.4 billion. In August, however, the location of the proposed plant was moved to Meredosia in western Illinois, and the CO2 emissions were to be piped 75 miles back to Mattoon to be pumped into the ground. Even without this additional step, the CCS process requires at least 25 percent more energy than a conventional coal generator. This means one-fourth more coal has to be mined, transported and burned to get the same output. Some environmental benefit. Dan Howells of Greenpeace calls CCS “nothing more than an industry pipe dream.”
In Florida, by contrast, one coal plant uses a gasification process (IGCC) that burns 15 percent less fuel and is10 percent more efficient. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D) of Illinois, however, wants none of that. He says that “It really made no sense to build a power plant to prove what’s already being tested in three or four commercial facilities.” In other words, we don’t want to build something that already works. Always expect the government to spend more to get less—and send you the bill.
William J. Lee
From the Sept. 15-21, 2010 issue