In two recent announcements, the DOE fleshed out its revamped proposal for the $1.3 billion in carbon capture and storage (CCS) funding left over from the canceled FutureGen project and said it would provide up to $90 million over 4 years to support hot fractured rock (HFR) geothermal R&D.
Given the widespread doubts that still surround CCS — the practice of capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide and storing it underground or in the deep sea — the DOE reasons that it is more cost-effective to invest in multiple projects aimed at accelerating its commercialization. It recently plunked down $126.6 million toward two projects in California and Ohio, bringing its total to 6 funded projects, and looks to make a further $290 million available through fiscal year 2009. The remaining $1.01 billion will be allocated over the ensuing 3 years, pending Congressional approval.
The DOE hopes to double the amount of CO2 sequestered compared to the amount proposed under its 2003 scheme. It expects each CCS-outfitted plant to eventually capture and store 1 million metric tons of the greenhouse gas every year.
Under its new geothermal plan, the DOE will make $10.5 million available immediately to support enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) research — with the rest also subject to Congressional appropriations. This $90 million infusion comes on top of the $1.6 million it has already committed to test HFR technologies at a commercial 11 megawatt geothermal plant in Nevada managed by a consortium of businesses and research institutions.