Bureau of Economic Geology plays leading role in Texas effort to land clean energy project

AUSTIN, Texas—University of Texas at Austin President William Powers Jr. today (July 25) said the selection of both Jewett and Odessa, Texas, as finalists to host FutureGen, the world’s first near-zero-emissions, coal-fueled power plant, is a tangible example of how research and science can assist public policy.

“I am pleased to have the university and our Bureau of Economic Geology actively supporting the state effort to bring this groundbreaking power plant and research facility to Texas,” Powers said. “This collaboration is exciting because it demonstrates that research and science can positively impact the resources and policy of Texas.”

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, FutureGen is a $1 billion public-private partnership that will use coal to generate electricity, produce hydrogen and capture and store carbon dioxide.

“Keeping America competitive in the future is going to require development of new energy alternatives. FutureGen is a vital part of the nation’s efforts to develop clean, affordable, and economically viable sources of alternative energy,” said James Huffines, chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents. The UT System Board voted unanimously in April to approve including two tracts of land in the Permian Basin, part of the System’s University Lands, for inclusion in the State of Texas proposal to the Department of Energy.

“We are proud and honored that the UT System has partnered with the State in this proposal and that Texas has been selected as one of the candidate sites for the federal FutureGen project,” Huffines said.

The Texas proposals were two of 12 site applications from seven states submitted to the FutureGen Industrial Alliance in May. The final site is expected to be announced next year.

State geologist Dr. Scott Tinker, director of the University of Texas’ Bureau of Economic Geology and the State Geological Survey, coordinated the development of Texas’ FutureGen site proposals.

“It was a great team effort the past year,” Tinker said. “I congratulate both Odessa and Jewett. We have another year of work in front of us to bring FutureGen home to Texas.”

“FutureGen’s vision is to develop technology that results in cleaner energy,” Powers said. “I am glad that The University of Texas at Austin, through the Bureau of Economic Geology, is able to serve the state of Texas and is so deeply involved in looking for practical solutions to societal issues. FutureGen will sequester one million tons of CO2 each year and CO2 is considered a major greenhouse gas with climate change implications.

“I am extremely proud of the leadership role Dr. Tinker and his staff at the Bureau of Economic Geology played in developing the FutureGen proposals. It required the research and preparation of a wide range of very technical data in a short period of time, and they came through with flying colors,” Powers said.

The Bureau of Economic Geology is one of two world-renowned research units in the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, which is the largest academic school of geological sciences in the country.

For more information contact: Robin Gerrow, 512-232-2145.