Posts tagged American Electric Power

Mountaineer’s carbon capture process illustrated

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.

Terrestrial sequestration: Notes from the Regional Carbon Sequestration Conference

Factuality_Badge_2This is the first in a series of posts from ACCCE’s National Communications Director, Steve Gates, who is attending the Regional Carbon Sequestration Conference underway in Pittsburgh.

Whether you’ve heard it here or elsewhere, carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS, has become a real part of the climate change conversation.

And while we support technology initiatives to safely capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-based power plants, such as American Electric Power’s Mountaineer plant in West Virginia, we realize that sequestering CO2 into geological formations isn’t the only way to permanently store these emissions.

In fact, yesterday during the first day of the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership’s Annual Review in Pittsburgh, we heard from researchers who offered updates on carbon sequestration projects of a different kind: using the power of Mother Nature —wetlands, forests and grasslands—to absorb huge volumes of CO2.

Edward N. Steadman

Edward N. Steadman represented the Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership.

Among the most interesting projects is the Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership (PCOR), which has explored revised land management practices to preserve wetlands across the upper Midwest. PCOR has partnered with Ducks Unlimited, a conservation group that seeks to protect waterfowl. The science behind the project, according to PCOR Project Manager Edward Steadman is that revitalized wetlands naturally sequester CO2 while providing a renewed habitat for animals.

Another group also exploring the potential for wetlands is the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP). In Maryland, federal agencies are spearheading an effort to restore up to 20,000 acres of tidal marsh in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Researchers associated with MRCSP are weighing how that restoration might help in sequestrating carbon, said David A. Ball, a program manager at Battelle.

In the West, forests are more abundant than wetlands. So the West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership, or WESTCARB, is researching how growing forests might reduce our carbon footprint. John Kadyszewski, speaking on behalf WESTCARB, opened eyes when he put up a chart indicating that an acre of a 100-year pine-fir forest had the potential to remove 400 tons of CO2 per acre.

Creating the technology to measure the results of terrestrial carbon sequestration has been another challenge, according to numerous presenters. But it’s a challenge they are working to overcome.

These efforts are highly encouraging, and we look forward to passing on more developments on carbon sequestration this week. Much more from Pittsburgh to come.

The facts: Coal’s economic impact tomorrow

Not only does coal provide nearly 50 percent of our country’s electricity, it’s also a big job creator. As we push ahead with carbon capture and storage and other technologies, we hope that innovation will preserve the jobs we have and expand on that workforce in the decades to come.

The findings of a Pennsylvania State University study speak to the economic promise coal can offer:

United States coal production, transportation and consumption for electric power generation will contribute more than $1 trillion of gross output – including 6.8 million jobs – directly and indirectly to the economy of the contiguous U. S. in 2015.

That’s why we are so enthusiastic about American Electric Power’s recent announcement that its Mountaineer plant in New Haven, W.Va., has become the first in the U. S. to capture a portion of CO2 emissions and store it underground.

Innovative projects like the one at Mountaineer could also benefit America’s bottom line by creating jobs. A recent report from key labor and energy industry groups, including ACCCE, finds that clean coal technologies will create millions of high-skilled, high-wage jobs for American workers.

So let’s continue to build a clean-energy infrastructure that will provide us with the affordable energy – and good jobs – we need to keep moving the country forward.

CCS is a good investment

In a blog post from today, Grist reporter David Roberts’ argument that “we’re going to burn the coal anyway” is a bad reason to invest in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). His rationale? The technology is “not a low-cost alternative” and “not a modification of existing infrastructure.”

His last two points are accurate, but those seem to be no reasons to abandon efforts to leverage CCS technology.

In the long term, we need to take a look at the cost/benefit analysis, and, yes, CCS is going to be expensive. Even a study last month from the International Energy Agency said that businesses and governments will need to invest at least $2.4 trillion by 2050 to capture carbon dioxide from power plants and store it underground. However, the upside will be once CCS is commercially deployed: It could cut carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent while limiting cost increases.

That’s one reason ACCCE is urging the federal government to partner with the private sector to help drive down the costs of commercial deployment.

In fact, many energy companies with clean coal projects – such as American Electric Power’s Mountaineer project in New Haven, W.Va. – have requested federal stimulus funding to ensure more efficient generation of electricity from coal.

And research groups are urging the government for financial assistance. Last week, Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Susan Hockfield told Bloomberg News that the lack of government investment in energy research is increasing the risk to national security and hindering the creation of breakthrough technology.

Researchers, scientists and engineers are working to perfect the science behind the technology to ensure we have enough energy to meet future demand.

The fact is, we rely on coal today and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future – a point Roberts acknowledged in his blog post. And that’s reason enough for us to continue investing in CCS technology to help reduce emissions even further.

‘We’ve got to get back into the business of making stuff’

The lack of government investment in energy research is increasing the risk to national security and hindering the creation of breakthrough energy technologies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Susan Hockfield told Bloomberg News last week.

As we approach Veterans Day, her message could not have rung truer. Hockfield said that the Obama administration’s request for $6.7 billion in U.S. energy-research funds “isn’t enough to move the U.S. toward energy independence.” (Her institution was the site of President Obama’s speech last month to highlight the nation’s need for clean energy.)

In order to create this technology, the government needs to invest in the research and development. And private industry wants to pitch in and lend a helping hand to its innovation.

More funding could build more robust public-private partnerships. Companies behind carbon capture and storage projects, such as Dominion’s Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County, Va., and American Electric Power’s Mountaineer project in New Haven, W.Va., are already seeking federal stimulus funding to ensure more efficient generation of our most abundant energy supply.

Investing in our domestic energy supply – as Hockfield stressed – is essential to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and gas.

But first, she said, “We’ve got to get back into the business of making stuff.” We agree.

The Facts: The real origin of ‘clean coal’

Critics claim that it doesn’t exist, that it’s just a catchphrase concocted by the coal industry.

In reality, clean coal technologies have been in use for decades – and we have lots of examples that demonstrate the progress we’ve made (see below). But the term itself? That’s not something we can take credit for.
Its origin can be found in a 1987 U.S. Senate bill:

“The term ‘clean coal technology’ means any technology … deployed at a new or existing facility which will achieve significant reductions in air emissions of sulfur dioxide or oxides of nitrogen associated with the utilization of coal in the generation of electricity.”

Today, clean coal technology refers to any technology associated with reducing emissions from coal-based electricity generation.

That covers a lot of innovation, for starters:

•More than $6 billion in research is underway right now across the United States to expand the depths of clean coal research.

•This month, American Electric Power Co.’s Mountaineer facility in New Haven, W.Va., became the country’s first coal-generated power plant to bury carbon emissions.

•And progress is being made on FutureGen, a proposed $1.5 billion project that would be the world's first coal-fueled, near-zero emissions power plant.

Every good term develops a life of its own, and we are proud that “clean coal” has taken off in more ways than one.

Mountaineer will advance CCS research, create jobs

Last week, American Electric Power and energy research center Battelle announced a project to capture as much as 110,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually at the Mountaineer plant near New Haven, W.Va., The Columbus Dispatch reported.

In August, The Dispatch editorialized that the initial $120 million investment would not only help advance carbon capture and sequestration technology in the realm of scientific research; it would also boost the economy of the Midwest by creating jobs in the region.

If successful, the plant would be expanded to capture up to 1.65 million tons a year. American Electric Power is seeking $334 million in federal stimulus funding to cover about half the cost of the larger plant, The Dispatch reported.

The editorial went on to say that AEP’s request is “appropriate” – especially because coal is likely to play a part in the foreseeable future.

This just goes to show that in order to push clean coal technologies forward, we need to continue building coal plants with the capacity to test and develop methods to cut carbon dioxide emissions on the commercial scale.

It’s great to hear such strong local support for new coal plants. We wish Mountaineer the best of luck in securing federal funding and moving ahead with the project.

New Dept. of Energy Partnership a Key to Unlocking a Cleaner Energy Future

Exciting news, everyone! This week, ACCCE members Arch Coal, Peabody
Energy, Southern Company, American Electric Power and Luminant partnered
up with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Carbon Capture Center,
a public-private partnership advancing the next generation of carbon
capture and storage (CCS) technologies.

The nation's best scientists and technology experts will come together
to help advance large-scale CCS operations. The new center will allow
these folks to work on CCS in a real power plant setting, at a size
large enough to provide meaningful performance data under real operating
conditions to enable scale-up of the technologies.

The center, located at the Power Systems Development Facility in
Birmingham, Ala., should be fully operational by 2010.

"As a partner in the National Carbon Capture Center, we will help drive
new energy technologies that will allow the United States to meet both
its environmental and economic goals," said Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal's
chairman and CEO. "We look forward to working alongside foremost energy
experts to unlock a cleaner energy future for our planet."

We're with you on that one, chairman. We're excited to see the
real-world results taking place.