Fossil Fuels:

Lessons Learned in DOE's Clean Coal Technology Program

RCED-94-174: Published: May 26, 1994. Publicly Released: Jun 2, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) Clean Coal Technology Program, focusing on the: (1) lessons DOE has learned in implementing the program; and (2) future direction of the clean coal program.

GAO found that: (1) the program's success will ultimately be measured by the extent to which the technologies developed under the program are commercialized in the energy marketplace; (2) the program has demonstrated that the government and private sector can work cooperatively in developing new technologies; (3) DOE experience with the clean coal program can be useful to other similar federal cost-sharing programs; (4) obtaining advanced funding increased the participants' confidence and long-term planning, using cooperative agreements increased participants' management flexibility and reduced federal oversight requirements, establishing federal cost-sharing limits helped ensure the industry's commitment to projects, and establishing a comprehensive evaluation and selection process helped ensure program integrity; (5) DOE has been able to modify the program's objectives to meet changing national needs and make program improvements and adjustments on the basis of the lessons learned; (6) although many of the program's improvements and modifications have been successful in addressing private-sector financing, repayment, and evaluation problems, DOE continues to experience project delays and cost increases resulting from environmental review requirements; and (7) although DOE is considering making design improvements on existing projects, its plans for the future direction of the clean coal program are uncertain.

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