FutureGen taps Morgan County for massive carbon vault

February 28, 2011

(Courtesy of FutureGen Alliance)
A generic layout of a proposed FutureGen site.

The FutureGen Alliance has chosen Morgan County, Illinois, for an experimental carbon dioxide storage facility, project developers announced today. CEO Kenneth Humphreys said the site, about 35 miles west of Springfield, has the right geology and the right location.

The plan is to generate electricity at a coal-fired plant in Meredosia, Illinois, and send the carbon dioxide to the storage site along a 32-mile underground pipeline. Both the plant and the storage site are in Morgan County, simplifying the logistics and reducing the cost of moving the gas. The new facility would be designed to store about 40 million tons of CO2 over the next 30 years. The gas would be injected underneath an 850-foot thick layer of sandstone overlaid by a cap of shale, where designers hope it would stay, essentially, forever.

Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation president Terry Denison says he’s relieved after four-and-a-half months of non-stop lobbying.

“I’ve literally had a big knot in my stomach for a couple of months, just to see, is there anything we should have done? Could have done? Because $1.3 billion does not come along every day,” he said.

The project still faces some regulatory hurdles, and partner Ameren Energy Generating Co. has yet to fully commit. FutureGen is backed by about a $1 billion in federal stimulus money, and is expected to generate several dozen permanent jobs.