Some of the most advanced clean tech developments are happening in Europe, where the likelihood of impeding carbon regulation is playing a role in the European Union’s (EU) future power generation strategy. Moreover, increased energy demand and a historical aversion to nuclear energy are causing the EU to consider an old standby: coal.
•According to a 2008 New York Times article, European countries are expected to put into operation about 50 coal-powered plants through 2013, which will be in use for the next five decades.
•Europe’s first coal plant that captures and stores carbon dioxide debuted in Spremberg, Germany last year. The EU plans to get an additional 10 to 15 carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants in operation by 2015. According to a 2008 article from the MIT Technology Review, the information gained from testing a 30-megawatt test plant will be used to scale up to a 300-to-500 megawatt demonstration plant set to go online by 2015—and up to a further 1,000-megawatt commercial plant between 2015 and 2020.
•Emerging Energy Research analysts estimate more than $20 billion will be spent on CCS projects in 2009 with the EU’s investment ranked number one globally at $11.6 billion, followed by the U.S. (at $6 billion).
The EU is currently testing new CCS technologies at a number of plants to help make the systems commercially viable as quickly as possible. Britain’s first large-scale CCS-equipped power plant—the Powerfuel-run Hatfield plant in Yorkshire is slated for construction for 2010 and will be operational by 2015. The plant may also receive funding from the EU.
It’s easy to get caught up in our own energy debates and challenges. But as the EU and other regions have consistently demonstrated, coal-generated electricity and emerging emissions-reducing technologies are playing an important role in meeting growing energy demands with domestic resources.
This is the third in a series of posts from ACCCE’s National Communications Director, Steve Gates, who attended the Regional Carbon Sequestration Conference in Pittsburgh from Nov. 16-19, 2009.
Conferences like the one I attended this week in Pittsburgh can be a bit overwhelming because of all the information that is discussed in a relatively small amount of time. For my final assignment this week from the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships Annual Review, I was asked to summarize what I learned about the status of carbon sequestration in the U.S. – a daunting task to say the least.
After hearing details from researchers and government officials about the latest stages of terrestrial and underground sequestration projects, one thing is sure: Carbon sequestration is a reality today.
For the critics of CCS, my only word of advice for you is to attend an event like this to learn just how far the technology has progressed over the past few years. It’s true, massive scientific endeavors like storing CO2 in geologic formations (as well as other processes) in the United States is not something that will happen on a wide scale tomorrow.
Remember, scientific breakthroughs need to be tested on a small scale first (usually in a laboratory), then rolled out into larger pilot test projects (where they are currently), and then finally for wide-spread deployment. (The National Energy Technology Laboratory has set a goal of making commercial-scale CCS technologies ready to deploy in the U.S. by 2020.)
I leave Pittsburgh with a renewed sense of optimism that CCS on a wide scale is getting closer all the time, and that meetings such as this one make that goal one-step closer to reality. Ultimately, CCS needs a collaborative multinational approach to reach its full potential, and meetings like the Regional Carbon Sequestration Conference not only help achieve that goal, it shows that the research needed for long-term success is moving ahead every day.
Now that American Electric Power’s carbon capture and storage project has begun operating at its Mountaineer plant in New Haven, W.Va., it has received a flurry of media attention.
And rightfully so – with the help of technology developed by French energy company Alstom, SA, the Mountaineer plant has become the nation’s first coal-generated power plant to capture and store its own carbon dioxide emissions. The goal is to capture and store about 1.5 percent of the CO2 the plant produces.
In the days after the plant’s announcement, many news organizations and publications have tried to explain Mountaineer’s clean coal process to the public – but few appear to have done it better than Scientific American.
We absolutely love the interactive slideshow that award-winning environmental journalist David Biello put together for the magazine.
At first glance, his photos look like a jumble of tubes, pipes and smokestacks, but he explains how each part of the plant plays an important role in cooling, capturing, storing and regenerating the carbon dioxide.
By the end of it, we guarantee that you’ll be up-to-date with the Mountaineer project and the process of capturing carbon emissions.
If you like what you see, check out the clean coal photos that the America’s PowerSM team took during this year’s Factuality Tour on Flickr. We got to see carbon capture and sequestration in action at the Pleasant Prairie Power Plant and the Research Experience in Carbon Sequestration.
And don’t forget to read Scientific American’s related article and guide to carbon capture technology.