Posts filed under Clean Coal Technology and Research

CO2-Enhanced Oil Recovery: What it is and why it’s important.

Carbon Capture and Storage, or CCS, is an important technology for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fueled power plants and other industrial sources.  CCS is a three part process wherein, CO2, a greenhouse gas, is captured from a plant’s emissions stream, transported in a pipeline, and stored in the subsurface.  While the technology holds significant promise, it is many years from being commercially available.  As the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its industrial partners undertake efforts to demonstrate the technology, most projects look to CO2 enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) to store their captured CO2.

Basics of CO2-EOR:

Some oilfields that have gone through conventional oil production are amenable to processes that produce additional oil.  One such process is the injection of CO2 into the depleted oilfield.  Injected CO2 helps produce additional oil by raising the pressures of the formation which holds the oil and by reacting with the oil, making it easier to move.  When the oil and CO2 are produced at the surface, the CO2 is separated from the oil and re-injected into the formation.  Some CO2 remains in the subsurface permanently.  CO2-EOR operations tend to operate like closed-loop system, with CO2 either remaining in the subsurface, or being re-injected instead of being released into the atmosphere.  The EOR industry has several decades of experience conducting CO2-EOR operations with CO2 from naturally occurring sources.

Potential for CO2-EOR:

As part of the DOE’s effort to develop CCS technology, it published the fourth updated of their “United States Carbon Utilization and Storage Atlas” (Atlas).  The Atlas attempts to quantify the amount of CO2 storage resource in various geologies across the U.S. and Western Canada.  DOE estimates that nearly 250 billion tons of CO2 can be stored in depleted oil and gas formations.  This estimate does not account for economic or regulatory barriers that will limit the number of fields amenable to CO2-EOR.  It is worth noting that around two thirds of this potential is in the southwestern United States.

Regulatory Framework of CO2-EOR:

All injections in the US are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Pursuant to that law, EPA has promulgated regulations for CO2-EOR operations through their Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.  Responsibility for implementing these regulations, commonly referred to as “Class II” regulations, has been delegated to state agencies in most instances.  These regulations cover construction and operation conditions, as well as other aspects of CO2-EOR operations.  Additional regulation of CO2-EOR operations is part of EPA’s broader effort to quantify CO2 emissions across the economy, the Mandatory Reporting Rule.  For each sector of the economy, EPA has developed a different subpart.  For CO2-EOR, EPA has promulgated the tiered approach of subparts RR and UU.  For conventional CO2-EOR operations, the less rigorous subpart UU applies.  Subpart RR requires more robust monitoring for those operators that are required to provide additional monitoring data because they seek to permanently store CO2.

Importance of EOR in Demonstrating CCS:

CO2-EOR is playing an important role in the demonstration of CCS technology at coal-fueled power plants.  DOE is supporting five CCS demonstration projects at coal-fueled power plants.  Of those five projects, four plan to integrate CO2-EOR as the storage component of the project, including the only project that is under construction.  The reason is simple, project developers can be paid by EOR operators for the CO2 that they generate.  This economic benefit is important to the technology development because it can begin to reduce the overall cost of implementing a CCS project.  The revenue from CO2-EOR, however, is not enough to account for the approximately $1 billion cost of installing CCS on a single 600 MW coal-fueled power plant.  In combination with grants and tax incentives, CO2-EOR plays an significant role in demonstrating this important technology.

 

Visit www.AmericasPower.org to learn more about clean coal technology and how coal is fueling the future of American energy.


Tomorrow: Let Your Voice Be Heard on the Future of Coal

Tomorrow, Friday May 9th, is the last and final day that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting comments on its proposed New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for coal- and gas-fueled power plants. Once the comment period ends, the debate will certainly continue on this stringent and unprecedented regulation; but the end of the comment period also means that EPA will begin writing its final rule, making your input during the home stretch all the more critical.

In September 2013, the proposed rule for new coal-based power plants was released to cheers from environmentalists and extreme concern on the part of the coal industry, advocates of clean coal technology and consumers. NSPS, as proposed, will place a de facto ban on any new coal-fueled power plant in the United States, effectively halting development of cleaner coal technologies in their tracks. It will also hamper America’s leadership on building advanced new power plants that use our nation’s most abundant energy resource, coal, to generate low-cost electricity.

Since the rule’s initial release, we have seen an outpouring of support from a broad array of stakeholders across the nation. Consumers and businesses know that advanced coal-based power plants are critical to our nation’s energy supply now and will continue to hold the key to a secure energy future.

Advocates for cleaner, more advanced technologies to limit emissions from coal-based power plants have also lamented the rule’s stringent guidelines that require the use of a technology that is far from ready. The regulation would require new power plants to use carbon capture and storage, a process that is in the early stages of development and has not been put to use on a commercial scale. We are continuing to learn about and develop this technology, but experts and industry leaders agree it is not yet ready for “primetime.”

And to make matters worse, we are bracing for the next round of EPA regulations for existing coal-based power plants, set to be released on or before June 1st. Just yesterday, the National Mining Association released an eye-opening poll, which found that 76 percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that new EPA regulations will lead directly to higher energy costs.

Coal is our nation’s most affordable, reliable source of electricity, and we must ensure that overreaching EPA regulations do not rob us of this valuable resource, costing us all higher electricity bills, lost jobs and unreliable power in the process. That is why it is so important that we make our voices heard over the next 36 hours before EPA closes the door on discussion of this important issue.

Visit www.EPARegsCostJobs.com today to join us and tell the EPA to protect our economic and energy future.


Earth Month: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Visits Arkansas’ Turk Power Plant

Emissions associated with electricity generation from coal aren’t what they used to be. Between 1970 and 2012, emissions of major pollutants from coal-based power plants decreased by more than 90 percent. We’re proud of how far our industry has come and the path forward we’re helping to forge. During “Earth Month,” we’re spotlighting some of the most cutting-edge clean coal technologies in use at plants today like the John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant or “Turk” in Fulton, Arkansas.

Turk is the first “ultra-supercritical” coal-fueled power plant in the United States which uses a combination of technologies to limit its environmental impact. The plant began generating electricity in December, 2012. Here are some of the ways Turk is leading the way in clean technology and community engagement:

  • Ultra-supercritical refers to the technology that creates an increase in steam cycle efficiency to effectively reduce fuel consumption, reagent consumption, solid waste, water use and operating costs.
  • Advanced combustion technology allows the plant to generate energy from low-sulfur coal that produces less greenhouse gas emissions (including carbon dioxide) than traditional coal-based plants.
  • The plant has installed a whole suite of efficiency measures that allows Turk to use less coal to produce the same amount of electricity as a traditional 600-megawatt power plant.
  • The plant also fuels the local community of Fulton, Arkansas with quality jobs, economic development and $6 million in annual school and property tax revenue.

Check out our new video with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., including his tour of Turk last year:

 

 

The coal industry will have invested $145 billion by 2016 to achieve concrete emissions reductions, and the investments won’t stop there. As coal remains our most affordable, reliable domestic energy source for years to come, we must continue to support clean coal technology through investment and balanced regulation.

 

 


My Day at Kemper with Dale Jr.

Last week, I was able to take advantage of an extremely unique opportunity: to go visit the most talked about coal plant in the country, the Kemper County Energy Facility. If that wasn’t enough, I got to escort Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the two-time Daytona 500 Champion, on the visit.

When we arrived at Kemper, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had only seen one coal plant before in West Virginia, and even from far away it seemed absolutely massive. I couldn’t even imagine what the most up-to-date facility could be like. After getting a safety briefing, we put on our hard hats and neon vests and went to see the plant.


When we were walking around, I wondered about the light colored rock beneath my feet and I soon discovered that it was lignite coal. Mississippi alone has more than 4 billion tons of lignite, and lignite accounts for over half of the world’s coal reserves. Kemper’s 6,000 employees help convert the lignite to gas through a gasification process called TRIG technology. TRIG essentially forms a chemical reaction where the lignite turns into a synthesis gas, while reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury (carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by at least 65% when using TRIG technology.) While Kemper is criticized for its cost overruns, it’s not uncommon when dealing  with a never-been-done  project of this magnitude. Over time, facilities like Kemper (after deemed commercially viable) will be cost-efficient and produce more electricity at a lower capital cost compared to other gasification technologies. Another benefit? The captured carbon from Kemper will be  transported to a facility more than 60 miles away to be used for enhanced oil recovery.

Among carbon capture and storage (CCS), Kemper has other environmentally-friendly components. For instance, the plant is a zero liquid discharge facility which basically means that any water they use to generate electricity, doesn’t go back into nature. They even have an agreement with a neighboring city (Meridian, Mississippi) for the majority of its overflow to be funneled to the 90 acre reservoir on-site.

It was amazing to see how excited the plant workers were when they found out that Dale Jr. was on site. It was such a great surprise for all of them, and so wonderful to hear the responses they had to show their appreciation for him supporting coal-based electricity. Dale Jr. loved seeing his fans, and his fans loved seeing him. I was speaking with his girlfriend, Amy, and she was telling me about their visit to CONSOL’s Enlow Fork plant last year and how interesting it was to learn about not only the plant and the mines, but the people that dedicate their lives to ensuring we have the power we need. She was equally as excited to see Kemper and learn about the technology behind it.

On my visit, I met several people who had been on-site since day one of construction and are still there several years later, its operations are the focus of American energy’s future. There are 6,000 hard-working Americans at Kemper that take a lot of pride in their work and how far they have come.   I can’t wait to see this amazing plant come on line in the fall and to continuing to learn more about the coal-based industry – and to my next plant tour with Dale Jr.!


Leaders Convene to Discuss Future of Energy at ECO:nomics

This week, the Wall Street Journal hosted its ECO:nomics business forum in sunny Santa Barbara, California. Several CEOs and business leaders gathered together to discuss America’s energy and environmental future. How do we meet our ever-growing electricity needs, while also reducing emissions? Many leaders agreed: coal is here to stay, and we must utilize clean coal technology.

Nick Akins, CEO of American Electric Power, reiterated the importance of coal-fueled power to support our electrical grid. Utilities like AEP depend on coal, a reality that was evident during the recent ‘polar vortexes’ and throughout the frigid winter. Around 90% of AEP’s coal plants currently slated for closure was brought online to help meet demand and power through the coldest days. As Akins told ECO:nomics attendees, we need coal backing up our electricity grid because “no one likes the lights to go out.”

Akins was followed by Peabody Energy Corp. CEO Gregory Boyce. Boyce and Akins carried a similar message: coal is critical and will be an integral part of our energy mix for years to come. It is the largest source of electricity generation in the U.S. and the fastest-growing source around the world. Boyce noted that Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK are all increasing their imports of coal, and Asia has been steadily increasing its use of coal, as well.

Coal-fueled power is electrifying communities across the globe and can bring power to all those who need it most, Boyce explained. Given Boyce’s commentary at the conference, it’s not surprising that Peabody is leading a global effort to help promote coal’s role in eradicating poverty through its newly launched Advanced Energy for Life campaign.

Both Boyce and Akins stressed the importance of further developing clean coal technology. In the words of Nick Akins, “progress is being made but not enough.” Boyce pointed out that building new clean coal plants is an opportunity to decarbonize. They both agreed that coal must be a major part of our future energy portfolio to ensure reliability, while also limiting emissions with advanced technology. But, if EPA continues with its crusade against coal-based electricity, the future of clean coal technology will be effectively quashed.

Instead we should support advanced technologies and maintain low-cost, reliable power for our communities through the use of America’s most abundant source of energy – coal.


New Study Reveals Billions in Costs, Lost Jobs Under NRDC’s Carbon Regulation Proposal

This week, we released a detailed economic analysis of the Natural Resource Defense Council’s (NRDC) carbon regulation proposal, first put forth by NRDC in December 2012 and updated last week.

The newest version of NRDC’s proposal ludicrously asserts that its plan to reduce CO2 emissions from existing power plants would carry no costs at all and would actually spur numerous benefits. Worse yet, the NRDC proposal recommends a system-based approach (also known as “outside-the-fence”) that is essentially a cap-and-trade program. Our analysis, performed by leading research firm the National Economic Research Associates (NERA), clearly demonstrates that NRDC left out some critical facts including the $13 to $17 billion-per-year price tag for consumers and the millions of jobs America stands to lose under its proposed policy.

Our economic analysis further projects the NRDC proposal would cost consumers a total of $116 to $151 billion during the period of 2018-2033. And, retail electricity prices would increase by double digit percentages in as many as 29 states.

Over this same time period, net job losses could total as many as 2.85 million. NRDC projects net job gains in the thousands, but only in the years 2016 and 2020.

NRDC also asserts that gas-fired generation would increase by 2 percent. Our economic analysis found that natural gas-fired generation would increase by 8-16 percent to keep up with demand, while rates would simultaneously increase by as much as 16 percent.

The results of our economic analysis reveal that the NRDC proposal is, in fact, all pain with very little gain. And the proposal’s failure to mention the many potential consequences, like cost increases and job losses, suggests that the group is ignoring reality in order to drum up support for its impractical plan. A more reasonable approach to greenhouse gas regulations would offer more flexibility and would focus on measures that can be taken at power plants to reduce their impact, while maintaining dependable, low-cost, coal-based electricity.

Here at America’s Power, we support an “inside-the-fence,” source-based approach that bases emissions reductions on measures taken at existing power plants. This would include many improvements power plants can make to their facilities that improve efficiency, remove emissions and more. Being able to implement measures at individual generating units is a common sense approach to working with utilities and achieving significant emissions reductions and environmental improvements. Let’s work together to craft a solution that works for our consumers and for America’s energy future.

Join us in asking the EPA to set common sense policies and to protect American jobs today.


American Coal Council’s Spring Forum Hosts Important Discussion

The American Coal Council hosted its Spring Coal Forum in Naples, Florida, this week where speakers underscored the importance of coal-fueled electricity to America and why the U.S. must invest in clean coal technology.

Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp., told the large crowd in Naples that there would be “no environmental benefit” in the “deliberate destruction” of the U.S. coal industry.

Murray went on to applaud Roger Bezdek for his important study on the social cost of carbon. Bezdek, another presenter at the Spring Coal Forum, asserted that “coal is the fuel of the past, present and future.” Bezdek also highlighted the fact that “electricity is essential for human well-being” and that coal effectively meets this need.

Murray told the crowd that 89 percent of American Electric Power’s (AEP) coal assets that are already slated for closure, due to EPA regulations, were put online this winter to supply electricity and heat during the frigid polar vortex. The lessons learned from this winter make it abundantly clear that now is the wrong time to take such a vital resource as coal out of commission. This is especially true when you consider that coal-fueled power is more advanced than ever as the industry has reduced emissions by 90 percent since 1970 and will have invested $145 billion in emissions controls by 2016.

Instead of making progress on reducing emissions from coal-fueled plants, the EPA is effectively halting carbon capture and storage (CCS) from further development by requiring the commercial-scale use of this technology before it is ready. That’s why we were encouraged to learn that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is taking action by launching an investigation into the questionable decision-making process by EPA that led to this untenable rule.

As I stated yesterday, for too long, the EPA has chosen to ignore the counsel of leading scientists and failed to come clean with American consumers about the true costs and consequences of its rulemaking. Instead of a reasonable path forward, EPA has proposed a rule that is unworkable and carries a high price tag for all Americans.

 

Take action by filing a comment with the EPA and ensuring affordable, reliable coal-based electricity.


ACCCE Talks Energy Policy with Senator Heidi Heitkamp

Following the Coal Technology Symposium on Capitol Hill last week, we sat down with Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) to talk about North Dakota’s and America’s energy future.

Senator Heitkamp knows better than most the need for a diverse fuel portfolio in America’s energy sector. After years of experience working within the energy industry, she now reaches across party lines on Capitol Hill to pursue common sense energy policies. Senator Heitkamp understands that coal-fueled electricity provides reliable, affordable power and can support America’s energy demands while reducing our carbon footprint.

“We know we can deploy clean coal,” Senator Heitkamp told us. “People ask me all the time, is there such a thing? And I say, absolutely.”

The United States is currently the global leader in clean coal technology innovation.  The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for coal-fueled power plants, however, put America’s innovation leadership at serious risk. As currently devised, NSPS will all but ensure no new coal plant is ever built in America resulting in a halt in innovation in clean coal technologies. Other countries like China and India will be all too eager to step in and continue to advance these technologies which will bring economic benefits in the trillions of dollars to the leader of the innovation race.

Senator Heitkamp believes that EPA and energy policy makers should work with America’s coal industry to develop less stringent regulations that allow room for extensive research and development of clean coal technologies right here at home.

“When you shut down the opportunity for coal long-term, or you send the wrong signals, you’re going to shut down the investment,” Senator Heitkamp added.

In 2012, North Dakota depended on coal-fueled power to generate 78 percent of the state’s electricity. Local businesses and families alike rely on the affordable power from coal to power their communities reliably, even during North Dakota’s harsh winters. And, this winter in particular, coal-fueled power plants were critical in meeting electricity demands across the country during the coldest days.

If EPA continues to pursue regulations that will shut down coal-fueled plants or place a de facto ban on future construction, local communities will be hit the hardest. Thankfully, Senator Heitkamp is standing up for North Dakota communities that depend on coal-fired power for electricity, job growth, and the numerous benefits coal offers local economies.

 

Take action today and join the fight to protect low-cost energy from coal and support the development of clean coal technology.