Archive for June, 2010

The Coal Wire: Carbon Capture’s Integral Role In Battling Climate Change

TheCoalWire


Today,
President Obama meets with a group of Republican and Democratic senators to
discuss how to move forward with energy and climate change legislation. And as we noted last week, we share President
Obama’s commitment to creating a clean energy future and the ability to balance
our nation’s energy, environmental and economic interests. The Obama
administration, as well as members of both parties in Congress, have recognized
the role of developing and deploying carbon capture and storage technologies in
achieving that balance and allowing American coal to play an important role in
achieving a clean energy future without jeopardizing jobs and our economy. As the
President’s Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, recently said
:

 

Advancing our carbon capture and storage
technology will create new jobs in America and reduce our carbon pollution
output … It’s another example of our country’s innovation at work.

 

In
this edition of The Coal Wire, we highlight carbon capture and storage
technology’s role in building America’s balanced clean energy portfolio, as
well as what other nations near and far are doing with CCS to help the rest of
the world move toward a future with significantly reduced carbon emissions.

 

Jefferson
[IN] Evening News and Tribune
Fired Up: Indiana Energy Adviser Argues The
Merits Of Coal In An Anti-Carbon Climate (6/24)
: “At a time when the
burning of fossil fuels is under attack as a major cause of global warming,
Irwin argues the unpopular position that burning more coal may be good for the
economy and the environment … As the director of the state’s Center for Clean
Coal Technology Research, located at Purdue University, its Irwin’s job to
advise state officials on how to allocate funds for coal research projects in
Indiana. Among them are efforts to develop a commercially viable way to
capture carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and sequester them
underground.
Another is the development of a pipeline to carry carbon
emissions to Texas, where it would be injected in liquid form into oil fields.”

 

USA
Today
Obama Funds Research Into Algae-Based Biofuels (6/29): “In its push for
clean energy sources, President Obama’s administration is exploring all options
– including algae-based biofuels … To help develop non-polluting energy sources,
DOE has awarded billions of dollars — much of it from the three-year Recovery
Act — for nuclear power plants, solar energy systems, wind turbines, energy
efficiency and carbon capture technology.”

 

University
of Texas At Austin
University Receives $19 Million To Monitor Carbon
Storage Project (6/28
): “The University of Texas at Austin will receive up to $19
million from the U.S. Department of Energy and NRG Energy to design and oversee
a monitoring plan for a carbon capture and storage demonstration project in
southeast Texas. The project will demonstrate advanced technology to reduce
emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from a coal-fired power
plant. This project will be among the first in the state of Texas, and one of
only a handful in the world, to use anthropogenic CO2 as opposed to naturally
occurring CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). EOR is a technique that involves
injecting CO2 into declining oil fields to increase oil yield. The objective of
this project will be to ensure the long-term geologic storage of the injected
CO2.”

 

Edmonton
Journal
Enbridge To Expand Pipeline, Join Carbon-Capture Project (6/29): “Enbridge Inc. said
Monday it plans a $400-million expansion of its Waupisoo oilsands pipeline
system and is joining a carbon-capture project near Edmonton backed by power
producers TransAlta Inc and Capital Power Corp … Enbridge also said Monday it
will join TransAlta and Edmonton-based Capital Power in Project Pioneer, a
$1.4-billion scheme to trap carbon dioxide emissions from the Keephills 3
coal-fired generation plant west of Edmonton. The project has $779 million in
backing from the Alberta and Canadian governments. It aims to cut emissions
of greenhouse gases by one million tonnes a year.”

 

The
Atlantic
Is China Winning The Energy Race? (6/17): “I spoke with Julian
Wong, an expert in Chinese energy policy at the Center for American Progress.
An edited version of our conversation follows: … ‘The number one concern is
energy security. China is already a net importer of coal, despite conventional
wisdom that they have abundant coal resources. That’s because a lot of the
supply is in remote areas while the demand is more on the coast, and there’s
inadequate logistics capacity to move the coal around. They’re also exporting
technology to Brazil and Turkey. They’re producing clean coal technology
like supercritical and ultra-supercritical power plants, which are essentially
ultra efficient coal power plants.
They’re making inroads in high voltage
transmission wires which send energy across remote areas and large distances
while mitigating energy loss. They’ve always used hyrdo-power as a way to
engage other countries by using their expertise and technologies.’”


American Clean Energy Portfolio Must be Balanced And Diverse

As
elected officials on Capitol Hill and in many state houses debate and discuss
how to move toward a clean energy future by decreasing carbon emissions, there
still remains a lot of talk about dramatically increasing the use of natural gas
to produce electricity. Policymakers are still considering whether to support
initiatives that would replace some coal use with natural gas to generate
electricity.  Since natural gas is already being used to generate about 23
percent of all U.S. electricity (coal is responsible for
nearly half
), that suggestion would double the amount of natural gas
currently used by the electric sector at once.

In
order to have the best discussion possible on what needs to be in an American
clean energy portfolio, we have to take into account three important facts:

  • First,
    a plan to replace coal with gas could cost the U.S. almost 200,000
    jobs.
    These
    jobs involve coal mining, transporting coal, operating coal-fueled power plants,
    manufacturing equipment, and providing supplies.  It is likely that even more
    well-paying American jobs would be lost as energy-intensive manufacturers are
    forced to cut their payrolls to offset higher electricity prices caused by
    switching to natural gas.
  • Second,
    a recent report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) raised serious
    questions about the feasibility of fuel switching from coal to natural
    gas.

    CRS pointed to uncertainty over future gas prices, the location and availability
    of electric transmission capacity, and the possibility of overstressing natural
    gas pipeline and storage capacity.
  • Third,
    public-private sector partnerships—here in the U.S. and in other nations—are
    developing carbon capture and storage technologies to achieve up to a 90 percent
    reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fueled power
    plants.

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it is more expensive (on a dollars
    per ton basis) to reduce carbon dioxide from natural gas-fueled power plants
    than from coal-fueled plants.  This is important because gas-fueled plants will
    not be able to meet the long-term requirements of the most climate change bills
    being discussed in Congress without installing CCS.

The
U.S. must be able to rely on all our domestic energy resources that can provide
affordable, reliable electricity. Like coal, natural gas has an important
role to play in America’s energy future.  But, replacing coal with natural gas
will not accomplish our nation’s economic, energy security, and environmental
goals
. Instead, with advanced technologies like carbon capture and storage,
our clean energy portfolio can be balanced and diverse.


CCS Technologies Part Of A “Low Carbon Path To Energy Security”


The
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting of energy ministers took place this past
weekend in Japan, as many nations’ leaders agreeing on a Declaration
On Low Carbon Paths To Energy Security
, with
the three goals of enhancing regional energy security, increasing economic
growth and lowering emissions. These leaders emphasized carbon capture and
storage technologies as a key part of that path, and emphasized a CCS
deployment plan as critical to achieving energy security:

 

Cost-effective technologies for carbon
capture and storage (CCS) are essential to reducing carbon emissions from power
generation within the many APEC economies that still rely on coal and other
fossil fuels for a significant portion of
their electricity generation. Clean coal technologies are available to make the
use of coal more efficient and lower-emitting. We therefore urge redoubled
efforts to develop and deploy such technologies and share information on them
through multilateral fora.

 

We instruct the EWG to extend and reinforce
its analysis of technology options for CCS and its dissemination of best
practices for applying these technologies to new and existing powerplants,
working with the EGCFE and other multilateral fora. We also instruct the EWG
and EGCFE to develop an initiative for deploying advanced clean coal
technologies such as Ultra Super Critical (USC) and Integrated Gasification
Combined Cycle (IGCC) to make coal-fired powerplants more efficient.

 

It’s
clear that our allies are making their investments in clean
coal technology
. They understand the
investments will help create the clean energy future we are striving for.
Congress, too, should support CCT in energy in any clean energy policy it takes
up.


The Coal Wire: CCS Technology In Action, Globally And Locally

TheCoalWire


June has been a great month
for carbon capture and sequestration technologies, as news reports tout
coal-fired power plants boasting technology that is reducing emissions by more
than 90 percent. In the past two weeks, we’ve talked about clean coal technology
developments from New Jersey to Wyoming, from Louisiana to Illinois, and even in India and Australia.

 

The coal-based electricity sector
is partnering with the federal government to bring new, cost-effective
technologies to the marketplace that is safely capturing and storing carbon
dioxide. In this edition of The Coal Wire, the fruits of those investments
domestically and internationally are highlighted:


Energy
Efficiency News
– IEA Points To Progress On CCS Proposals (6/17):

“Significant progress’ has been made towards the commercialisation of carbon
capture and storage (CCS), according to a new report being presented to G8
leaders at the June Summit in Canada.”  The report from the International
Energy Agency, “the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) and the Global
CCS Institute says that the goal set two years ago in Hokkaido, Japan of
launching 20 large-scale CCS demonstration projects by 2010 will require
industry and governments to work together and accelerate their efforts. … 
Currently, 80 large scale projects are at various stages of development around
the world, with five already operational and one is starting construction.”


E&E
News PM
–  DOE Researchers Test Coalbed Methane Sequestration At
Alabama Site (6/16):
“Researchers led by the Energy Department are testing the
potential to sequester carbon dioxide while enhancing natural gas production at
a site in Alabama.”  The Tuscaloosa County coalbed methane well will be
field tested to evaluate the “capability of mature coalbed methane reservoirs
to store CO2, DOE said.”  Earlier this week, researchers “began injections
of CO2 into an existing coalbed methane well.  Four new wells are being
used to monitor reservoir pressure, gas composition, water quality and the CO2 plume.” 
This “test will inject 240 tons of CO2 into the formation over a 45- to 60-day
period.”


Climatewire
– Total Has CCS Success (6/16):
“A French oil company is testing carbon capture and sequestration
(CCS) in the southwest region of the country with positive results.” 
Major oil producer, Total, “converted a part of a methane plant into a CO2
capture demonstration project,” in which the “captured gas is pumped about 17
miles away where it is injected underground into a depleted natural gas
reservoir.  The project was declared successful after five months — the
2,000 tons of carbon dioxide sequestered so far have stayed put.” 
Climatewire adds, “Over the next five years, Total plans to sequester 120,000
tons of carbon at the site and monitor its ability to contain the gas.”


Associated Press – Air Products Awarded $253 Million In
DOE Funding Toward CCS Project (6/17):
Air Products & Chemicals Inc. announced
“Wednesday that it was awarded $253 million in funding from the Energy
Department to complete a carbon dioxide capture project in Port Arthur,
Texas.”  The funding, “from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,
will be used for final engineering, design, construction and operation of the
project through September of 2015,” according to the company, and “represents
two-thirds of the roughly $384 million project.  Air Products said it will
design, construct and operate a state of the art system to capture carbon
dioxide from its two steam methane reforms within the Valero Refinery in Port
Arthur.  The recovered and purified carbon dioxide would then be used in
enhanced oil recovery.”


The Hindu – Scientists Planning To Store CO2 Deep
Underground (6/17):
“In
a novel way to fight global warming, scientists are trying how they could
remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the gas deep under
the sea bed where it can cause no trouble. Researchers at the University of
Iceland are studying the possibility of sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2)
in basalt, a common extrusive volcanic rock that makes up most of the world’s
oceanic crust.”


ACCCE Statement: Regarding President Obama’s Address To The Nation Tonight


Tonight, President Obama addressed the Nation from the Oval
Office regarding the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and emphasized the need for
comprehensive energy legislation.  In response to that address, American
Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity President Steve Miller released the
following statement:

 

"What
has happened in the Gulf of Mexico is a great tragedy and will harm the
American people, our nation's economy, and the environment for years to come.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are suffering because of this environmental
calamity.

 

The
president is right to call for comprehensive measures to address the damage
caused by this oil spill and to ensure that such a tragedy does not occur
again.

 

The
president also renewed his call for bolder action to create a clean energy
future.  We share the President's commitment, and recognize the steps we
take as a nation must balance America's environmental, economic, and energy
goals.  As the president has noted on numerous occasions, advanced
technologies-including carbon capture and storage-will allow American coal to
play a vital role in our clean energy future.  Coal is vital to rebuilding
our nation’s economy and protecting jobs.  Nearly half of our nation’s
electricity is generated by coal, and coal continues to keep electricity
reliable and affordable for American families and businesses. 

   

We are
committed to working with President Obama and his administration, along with
Congress, to develop policies that will ensure a cleaner environment, greater
economic prosperity, and more energy security.  Accelerating deployment of
these advanced technologies will mean that millions of American families can
continue enjoying affordable, reliable electricity from our nation's largest
domestically-produced energy resource-coal."    


Recent Breakthroughs For Clean Coal Technologies


If you follow
America’s Power on Twitter
, you probably saw the article we linked to yesterday about
the almost $1 billion that’s going
to fund clean coal projects around the country. The money, announced by Energy
Secretary Steven Chu, will go to demonstrations of large-scale carbon capture
and storage.

 

The federal government has
long been seeing clean coal investments pay off, and yesterday they announced
another breakthrough: Scientists at the DOE’s National Energy Technology
Laboratory have “developed a method for detecting and tracking carbon dioxide
deep underground, giving the federal
government an important tool as people look for ways to keep carbon dioxide and
other greenhouse gases from crowding the atmosphere
,” according to the AP. They explain that the
technology is a fruit of the $4 billion
the Obama Administration has pledged for CCS-related research. That pledge,
along with the White House’s clean coal task force, is part of the federal
effort “to get CCS technology widely deployed within 10 years,” the AP says.

 

The tracers will be an
important tool for finding ideal areas for CO2 sequestration, Sean McCoy of
Carnegie Mellon explained:

 

“There’s
great potential, and in the real world, we’re definitely going to see carbon
capture and sequestration happening. But I think there’s going to need to be a
concerted push to remove some of the obstacles that are out there right now to
get this technology rolled out on a large scale.”

 

University of Utah professor Brian McPherson agrees, pointing out that
other clean coal technologies also need to be promoted:

 

“CO2
storage in the subsurface is just part of everything else that needs to be
done, like increasing efficiency and developing better coal combustion
technologies that produce less CO2,”

 

But of course, there’s no
lack of effort on these fronts. For instance, just today Lithgow Mercury featured USA Green
Energy Group LLC’s new coal combustion to steam process system
:

 

“USA
Green’s process system removes NOx, SOx and other emission impurities down to
EPA standards while capturing 99.9 per cent commercial grade CO2 which meets
the EPA’s requirements for sequestration …

 

“The
system breakthrough can retrofit and nearly eliminate all emissions and
pollutants from coal power plants, steel mills, refineries and other similarly
situated fossil fuels.”

 

These announcements were
just in the past two days, but clean coal technology breakthroughs continue to
be a reality, in no small part to America’s dedication to a clean
energy future.


The Coal Wire: International Investments In CCT

TheCoalWire


With President Obama
slated to speak tomorrow night about America’s energy future, and with Congress
continuing its work on potential climate legislation, the International Energy
Agency is continuing to urge nations around the world to make more investments
in commercially deploying carbon capture and sequestration projects as part of a
worldwide effort to reduce CO2 emissions. Bloomberg reports:

Governments and
industry should boost efforts to deploy carbon capture and storage projects that
reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas and help fight global warming, the
International Energy Agency said in a report …

“The growing number
of projects under development around the world demonstrates that increased
action is being taken,” Nick Otter, chief executive officer for the institute,
was quoted as saying in an IEA statement e-mailed today. “Rapid progress towards
operation of those projects is now required if CCS is to be on track for broad
deployment by 2020.”

Any U.S. legislation
should move toward a clean energy future with investments into clean coal
technology. That’s why, in this edition of
The Coal Wire, we’re highlighting stories from the past couple weeks from
countries where governments and industry are already making significant
investments in CCT.

The Times Of India – “Coal To Power RIL’s Future Ambitions”
(6/2): “Reliance Industries,
freed from its non-compete agreement with the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG)
that barred it from investing in high-growth sectors, is likely to make its
first big-ticket investment in coal-fired power plants … The company is clear
that among the three new sectors open to it, power is the most lucrative and the
challenge will lie in developing plants in record time and with the best
technology. ‘The challenge is to come in before demand starts petering out,
which is in the next six to seven years. We will have to build the plant within
three years if the normal practice is five years and most importantly, we have
to adopt cost-effective technology like clean coal to maximise the returns
…’”

BBC
News
– “Who Pays For UK Coalition’s ‘Green Economy’?” (6/2):
“Ministers also want
to increase how much energy we get from renewables – and have asked the
Committee on Climate Change to look into it. On coal, the new government has
promised to continue existing support for four new ‘clean-coal’ power stations,
which bury carbon dioxide underground. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the parties
appear to have dealt with their disagreements by supporting every option for
cleaner energy.”

Australian Broadcasting Corporation – “Clean Coal Projects
Funded” (6/8): “Ten projects worth
$13 million have been funded by the NSW State Government as part of the rush to
clean up carbon emissions from the coal industry. They include projects to
capture methane emissions from mines, totally new systems for generating power
from coal using fuel cells and new ways of storing carbon in rocks so it is not
released into the atmosphere … Marcus Dawe says the technology could have a
significant impact on carbon emissions from coal fired power stations in
Australia and abroad. ‘In ten years time, in one plant alone in NSW, we think we
can mitigate 20 million tonnes of CO2 a year, which is equivalent to a third of
Australia’s car emissions… while India and China have already indicated their
interest in the technology, which is carbon capture and use, rather than just
pure storage.’”

 


The Coal Wire: CCT Coming To Your Town

TheCoalWire


In
this edition of The Coal Wire, GE Energy’s Monte Atwell urges increased
investment in commercializing carbon capture and sequestration projects to make
the U.S. more competitive in developing clean energy technologies while the
U.S. Department of Energy announced hundreds of millions of dollars in funding
for local CCS developments.

GreenwireGE Urges Federal Panel To Fund CCS Site Studies
(6/8)
[Subscription
Needed]: “Monte Atwell, the head of GE Energy’s gasification business, said his
group is advising a presidential task force on CCS to take steps now that can
keep the United States competitive in the race to develop crucial clean energy
technologies … The task force, slated to present its recommendations in August
on how to get five to 10 commercial CCS projects started by 2016, should
propose funding the early engineering work for potential integrated
gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plants, Atwell said at a briefing with
reporters.”

E&E News PMDOE
Provides $612M For 3 Industrial CCS Projects (6/10) [Subscription
Needed]
: “The Energy Department announced the award today of $612 million for
building three large industrial carbon capture and storage projects … The DOE
grants [include]: $260 million to Leucadia Energy LLC and Denbury Onshore LLC
for capturing 4.5 million tons of carbon dioxide from a new methanol plant in
Lake Charles, La. The captured gas will be sequestered in the West Hastings
oilfield for enhanced oil recovery beginning in April 2014, DOE said. General
Electric Co., Haldor Topsoe A/S, Black & Veatch Corp., Turner Industries
Group LLC, and the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology are also
participating in the project.”

The
Decatur Herald-Review
ADM Receives $99 Million In Federal Aid For Second
Carbon Capture Project (6/11)
: “Archer Daniels Midland Co. has been
selected to receive funding for a second carbon sequestration project that is
in addition to one that could begin injecting carbon dioxide deep below ground
next year … U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., hopes Central Illinois will be a
leader in addressing the nation’s energy needs in a cleaner, more efficient
way. “Developing technologies like large-scale carbon capture and storage
is critical to our continued use of coal without causing more harm to the
environment,” Durbin said.”

The
Port Arthur News
Energy Grant Taps $253M For PA Carbon Containment (6/10): “On Thursday, the U.S. Energy Department
tapped $253 million toward containment and deployment of carbon from industrial
sites as part of a Port Arthur-based initiative. Air Products & Chemicals,
Inc. and partner Denbury Onshore LLC received the allocations as part of the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act after successfully finishing phase one
research and development. The companies hope to capture and sequester one
million tons of CO2 per year from existing steam-methane reformers in Port
Arthur beginning November 2012. This is the equivalent of removing nearly one million
cars off the road. The initiative will also increase domestic production of oil
by more than 10 million barrels a year by the end of September 2015, according
to Energy Department reports.”