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Carbon Solutions

Capture and storage tech developments secure coal’s future.

Fortnightly Magazine - December 2009

install a commercial-scale application of Alstom’s system on one of its other coal-fired plants.

The site of Alstom’s Phase III commercial-scale demonstration project has yet to be determined. When commissioned, though, that project is expected to capture 1 million to 1.5 million tons of CO 2 per year for use in enhanced oil recovery or storage in an underground formation.

McHenry says AEP would like to see Phase III take place at Mountaineer. “We have the space available,” she says. Scale-up costs would be about $668 million, and AEP already has applied for Federal stimulus funds. “These stimulus funds would be about half the cost of the scale-up to 235 MW,” she says.

For the Mountaineer project, DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy contributed $7.2 million, while Alstom and AEP contributed $1.4 million for the initial phases. Geological investigation of the site cost $4.2 million. Battelle Memorial Institute (Ohio) served as the consultant to AEP on geological storage and is expected to continue in that capacity.

Going Underground

Several other utilities are participating in sequestration-only projects. In fact, more than 20 such tests have been, or are being, conducted nationwide under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program, which has seven regional partnerships. Two of the participating utilities are Duke Energy and FirstEnergy, which have been involved in projects managed by DOE’s Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP).

In September 2009, 1,000 metric tons of CO 2 were injected in two 500 metric-ton well tests at Duke Energy’s East Bend Generating Station at Rabbit Hash, Ky. “We offered our East Bend plant, because it is one of our younger plants, and if we were to retrofit one of our pulverized coal plants in the future, East Bend would definitely be a candidate,” says Darlene Radcliffe, Duke Energy’s director of environmental technology and fuel policy. “East Bend is also located right over the Mt. Simon Sandstone geological formation, which is thought to have a very high potential to be a good CO 2 sequestration reservoir.” As such, according to Radcliffe, when MRCSP was looking for a site, East Bend turned out to be a natural fit.

The plant didn’t actually produce the CO 2 for the injection test. Rather, food-grade CO 2 was purchased and trucked in by tanker trucks. “The test was very successful,” she states. “All indications are that this will continue to be a very good site.”

However, things didn’t go quite as well at FirstEnergy’s R.E. Burger plant in Shadysville, Ohio, the site of another MRCSP-sponsored CO 2 injection. “We offered the Burger site to have a test well drilled,” reports Mark Durbin, a FirstEnergy spokesperson. “Battelle started doing injection testing there in 2008.” But according to a May 21, 2009 DOE press release on the R.E. Burger project, “Results of the formation evaluation indicated that the porosity, void space, and permeability of the target formations were lower than expected. The pressure in the formations also rose unexpectedly with very low injection rates.”

In sum: “The project didn’t seem to work out as we had hoped,” Durbin says.