Plans in the USA to construct the world’s first near-zero emissions coal fired power plant have reached a major milestone with the selection of Mattoon, Illinois, as the host site for the project.

Selection of the final site for the 275 MW FutureGen plant is the culmination of an open competitive tender process that began in 2006 and included an environmental review by the US DOE as well as an assessment of risks, costs and benefits.

“The Alliance would like to congratulate Mattoon, Illinois for being chosen as the final site to host the FutureGen facility,” said Mike Mudd, chief executive officer of the FutureGen Alliance. “Officials from Mattoon should be commended for their determination and dedication to the FutureGen program.”

The commercial-scale FutureGen plant is designed to prove the technical and economic feasibility of producing electricity and hydrogen from coal while eliminating emissions altogether – nearly. Construction is due to start in 2009 and full-scale plant operation is planned to begin in 2012.

FutureGen will cost approximately $1.5 billion to develop and will incorporate coal gasification, advanced emissions control and carbon capture and storage technologies.

The FutureGen Alliance received 12 proposals from seven states for siting the project and four candidate sites were selected for further review after an evaluation by a team of renowned US and international scientists.

The Mattoon site consists of 444 acres in Mattoon Township, Coles County, Illinois. The site has adjacent power lines, gas pipeline and rail access, and a 345 kV substation is located 16 miles away.

The Mattoon site proposers intend to use the combined effluent from municipal wastewater treatment plants in Mattoon and Charleston for cooling water. The CO2 injection well is located on the Marttoon site, negating the need for a CO2 corridor.