More Wasted Subsidies for Failed Technologies

The Department of Energy (DOE) continues to use taxpayer money to support failed technologies.

Finally, however, DOE has suspended funding to the Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) polygeneration clean coal plant. This was an IGCC power plant that was also supposed to produce commercially salable byproducts, such as fertilizer.

DOE committed over $400 million towards the construction of the plant. To date, only $150 million has been spent, but DOE has left the door open to spend the remaining $250 million.

Schematic of HECA Polygeneration plant from DOE
Schematic of HECA Polygeneration plant from DOE

Similar to all IGCC power plants, HECA is failing. It is also having difficulty finding customers for its high-priced byproducts, byproducts that were to make the project profitable.

As described in an earlier article, IGCC power plants are an absolute failure. See, Clean Coal is Dead, Long Live Clean Coal.

DOE continues to fund projects associated with IGCC power plants.

These include the TDA Research Inc. chemical absorbent-based air separation process for low-cost oxygen to be used in IGCC power plants, and a grant, of around $2 million, to Ohio State University for developing a chemical looping gasification technology.

In addition, DOE continues to fund carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies.

These technologies are essential for supporting the EPA’s rules for new coal-fired power plants, and for its clean coal power plan. Lawsuits have been filed, saying CCS is not a proven technology.

The EPA says the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for those sources is partial CCS, saying, “Partial capture is technically feasible and can be implemented at a reasonable cost.”

But thus far, IGCC power plants have failed, and CCS is struggling to be found viable.

These efforts by DOE to fund IGCC and CCS projects are desperate attempts to validate the EPA’s finding that CCS is technically feasible.

At this point in time, no successful large-scale power generation CCS projects exists anywhere in the world. In addition, at least 11 large-scale CCS power generation projects around the world have been scrapped or delayed.

CCS is far from proven technically, and is far from being economic. See, The Why and How of Carbon Capture and Sequestration.

How the courts will rule on the EPA’s plans is an unknown.

As an aside, it’s galling that these grants and subsidies are for fossil fuel technologies, where environmental extremists are bound to claim they support the fossil fuel industry, when, in fact, they are intended to bolster the EPA’s war on fossil fuels.


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