photo via flickr
The great hope of those who want coal to remain at the center of our energy mix--CCS--received special attention this week from Mike Morris, head of American Electric Power, the nation's largest utility. At a conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, Morris touted the progress of AEP's test carbon capture and sequestration project in West Virginia. The project, which is backed by Department of Energy funding, is now capturing and storing about 2 percent of the emissions from the New Haven coal-fired power plant. The 1,300 megawatt plant is storing about 20 megawatts of emissions, and Morris thinks that can scaled up to 250 megawatts by 2013 or 2014.
"It's working really quite nicely," said Morris.
The CCS project was started last October at the plant near New Haven, W.Va., in an attempt to demonstrate the feasibility of capturing carbon from a coal-fired generation facility. Ohio-based AEP owns and operates more coal-fired plants than any other U.S. utility.
The captured CO2 from the 20-megawatt "slipstream" portion of the facility's flue gas exhaust, which amounts to less than 2 percent of the power plant's total emissions, has been compressed and piped for storage into geologic formations about 1.5 miles below the Earth's surface.
Morris' bullishness comes one week after the news that Southern Co. is pulling out of an almost $700 million dollar CCS project in Alabama. The demonstration project was to be cited at Southern's Plant Barry, and it was earmarked for about $295 million in federal stimulus funding through the Energy Department's Clean Coal Power Initiative. Had it been built, it would have captured 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually from a 160-megawatt flue gas stream and then store in underground rock formations.
There remain no large scale CCS projects in the US.