The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has decided to cease funding the Texas Clean Energy Project (TCEP), one of six clean-coal-energy projects promised under DOE’s Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI).
The decision marks the fifth time DOE has pulled the plug on a clean-coal project.
DOE cited an inspector general’s report showing the project was well over budget and behind schedule when announcing its decision to cease funding the project on May 13, 2016. The original funding agreement, which was finalized in 2010, capped federal spending at $15 million during the preliminary phase, a limit it exceeded by $101 million. According to the inspector general’s report, “As of February 2016, the Department had invested about $116 million in the Project without assurances that it would succeed.”
Under the Obama administration, DOE has spent $4.8 billion dollars on carbon capture and storage technologies under CCPI, including six major demonstration projects aimed at capturing at least 90 percent of carbon-dioxide emissions at each plant per year.
Unable to secure significant nongovernment funding, DOE’s suspension of funding amounts to a death knell for the Texas project. This means five of the six carbon capture and storage projects, which combined have received $1.25 billion in federal funds, have been canceled or suspended.
Expensive, Unnecessary Goal
Like other CCPI projects, TCEP sought to develop and demonstrate the success of carbon capture and storage (CCS), a process by which a facility generating carbon-dioxide emissions would capture those emissions, preventing them from entering the atmosphere.
The development of commercially viable CCS technology has proven more expensive and difficult than the federal government initially expected; each of the cancelled CCPI projects failed in large part due to a failure to meet budget requirements, because they fell far behind schedule, or both.
“While I appreciate the [Obama] administration offering a benefit to an industry it has all but killed, I oppose subsidies,” said Marita Noon, executive director of Energy Makes America Great. “However, the primary problem is not with the CCS technology or subsidies, it is with the government’s goal itself.”
“CCS attempts to eliminate a colorless, odorless gas essential to life that has repeatedly been shown to have little impact on the environment,” Noon said.
Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“The Department of Energy’s Continued Support of the Texas Clean Energy Project Under the Clean Coal Power Initiative,” Office of the Inspector General’s Office of Audits and Inspections, U.S. Department of Energy, April 26, 2016: https://heartland.org/policy-documents/department-energys-continued-support-texas-clean-energy-project-under-clean-coal-po