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Advanced CO2 Capture Project Abandoned Due to “Uncertain” U.S. Climate Policy

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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mountaineer-and-coal-pileCiting a weak economy and the "current uncertain status of U.S. climate policy," utility American Electric Power has decided not to proceed with plans to expand CO2 capture and storage technology (CCS) efforts at its Mountaineer power plant in West Virginia.

"At this time it doesn’t make economic sense to continue work on the commercial scale CCS project," AEP CEO Michael Morris said in a prepared statement. The project at Mountaineer had captured as much as 5.5 metric tons of CO2 per hour—or roughly 1.5 percent of the coal-burning power plant’s emissions—and pumped it more than 2,000 meters deep for storage in porous rock. All told, the demonstration phase of the project sequestered 37,000 metric tons of CO2 since 2009, according to AEP.

The project had been hailed as a "turning point" in the fight to restrain the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change but, in the absence of a federal program to impose a cost on CO2 emissions or support from local regulators to allow AEP to recoup the cost of the project, AEP could not support the cost of the next phase—estimated at more than $650 million.

While the Mountaineer project was one of the most advanced in the world—combining both CO2 capture and storage—other CCS projects continue to move forward, including a similar demonstration project employing a different CO2 capture technology at a Southern Company power plant in Alabama and the FutureGen project in Illinois. Pilot projects from around the world suggest CO2 capture and storage could be accomplished at a cost of as little as 9 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to engineering company Alstom, which makes the technology.

Given a world that relies on burning fossil fuels for more than 80 percent of its energy, developing CO2 capture and storage technology remains a necessity not a luxury, albeit a necessity no one seems to want to pay for. "We need to develop the technologies that enable us to use our fossil fuels in a clean way," Secretary of Energy Steven Chu told Scientific American in 2010. Despite federal cost-sharing, the development of CCS just got even slower.





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  1. 1. Feurmann 7:09 pm 07/14/2011

    According to my rough calculation, if the plant has been operating for two years (it doesn’t say when in 2009 the project began operating), the carbon capture efficiency rate is 0.057%.

    Link to this
  2. 2. geojellyroll 7:35 pm 07/14/2011

    Another inefficient silly idea that has zero benefit.

    Now the bureacrats will invent another scheme to justify their exiestence.

    Link to this
  3. 3. Lazarus 7:48 pm 07/14/2011

    "the carbon capture efficiency rate is 0.057%."

    I’m not sure how you devised this figure but the article clearly says it can capture "roughly 1.5 percent of the coal-burning power plant’s emissions", wouldn’t that make it 1.5% efficient at capturing emissions?

    As a proof of concept it clearly works and no doubt the next phase would have aimed to have increase the capture ability.

    Link to this
  4. 4. scientific earthling 9:10 pm 07/14/2011

    Capturing carbon dioxide is easy, sequestering it safely as a carbonate or any other non-volatile compound is the problem. The energy balance does not work out, its similar to creating a perpetual motion machine.

    Link to this
  5. 5. Bops 9:15 pm 07/14/2011

    How "geojelly-you-roll" when it’s hard to breath because of heavy pollution.
    What is your real motive?
    Glad you don’t need clean air to survive?

    Link to this
  6. 6. pokerplyer 9:41 am 07/15/2011

    Carbon capture is expensive and yields almost no real benefit. It is good this was killed

    Link to this
  7. 7. geojellyroll 11:17 am 07/15/2011

    bops "How "geojelly-you-roll" when it’s hard to breath because of heavy pollution"

    I’ll excuse your bizarre grammar. However, your posting shows an ignorance of what ‘carbon capturing’ is all about. Trying to control Co2 has zip to do with breathable air.

    It’s not unusual for GW groupies to be poorly grounded in their arguments and use silly scare mongering.

    Link to this
  8. 8. 8281regam 12:22 pm 07/15/2011

    "Trying to control Co2 has zip to do with breathable air."

    Please enlighten the community and tell us what carbon capture and sequestration is really all about.

    Link to this
  9. 9. sault 1:28 pm 07/15/2011

    Good to see this project was actually evaluated on its merits and shut down accordingly instead of being a meaningless posterboy for the coal lobby to point to as evidence that their dirty fuel could ever be "clean". To just capture 10% of the CO2 emissions EACH YEAR, the same volume of liquid, in the form of CO2, would have to be pumped underground as the ENTIRE oil industry pumps out of the ground as crude oil. In addition, pumping and SEQUESTERING stuff underground is more difficult than pumpung it out of the ground since you are building pressure instead of releasing it.

    This project was just a political stunt that had A LOT of government money invested in it. You see, once Americans wise up (the rest of the world pretty much has the whole we cause climate change thing figured out), coal has no future unless they can bury SOME of ther waste stream underground. I mean, it already has HUGE problems with mercury, NOx, soot, ash, acid gases, mine drainage, etc, but the CO2 problem will be the nail in the coffin for them in about 10 years.

    Link to this
  10. 10. geojellyroll 2:50 pm 07/15/2011

    Sault:

    Au contraire. Coal has a huge future. It has increased it’s percent of world electrical generation in the last decade and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Nothing on the horizon implies otherwise.

    coal production has never been higher and mega mines are being developed in Australia, Canada, Russia and other locations. Coal use is rising in China, India, Germany, Japan and the United States.

    Link to this
  11. 11. AverageJoeSixPac 2:06 am 07/17/2011

    Good Lord, they’re capturing co2 and pumping it into the ground? Jesus, I have to buy co2 to run my brewery, to move beer, carbonate it, purge tanks and lines of o2, and lately the cost is starting to rise. And these people are trying to bury it?

    Are all of you in touch with reality? co2 makes up a smudge .038% of our atmosphere. .038 percent is a TRACE AMOUNT. It sounds to me that the Greenies here have some hatred for co2, like it’s some kind of poision.
    We all know they hate oil and oil companies, do you also hate co2 because it’s related to oil. Its also related to your living, and the survival of plants here on this planet.

    please save some, we need it!

    AJSP

    Link to this
  12. 12. AverageJoeSixPac 2:36 am 07/17/2011

    I’m still looking for all these people dying in the streets from all this horrible nasty pollution and the nasty co2 (that we breath out) and so far I havent seen any. And I stay in touch with world news, and there is no panic, no mass problems, no hospitols full of Global Warming patients, but I do see a lot of scam artists trying to push this off as real.

    Maybe we should do some comparisons. Let see just how many people have died due to this so called "Climate Change" and these events.

    Number of people killed in Auto Accidents

    Number of people killed in Sunamis

    Number of people killed by dictatorship governments

    Number of people killed in Earthquakes

    Number of people killed in wars

    Number of people killed in wild fires.

    Number of people killed in airplane crashes.

    Number of people killed in ships at sea sinking.

    Number of people killed in trying to rob others.
    AND
    Number of young babies killed by abortionists.

    Come on now, there must be a number, Recorded, how many people have died as a result of THE ONE DEGREE C TEMP INCREASE IN THE LAST 100 YEARS…

    .

    Link to this
  13. 13. Postman1 11:08 pm 07/21/2011

    AJSP- You obviously must not have read the memo, all those things you listed are caused by ‘climate change’. Same list as record snows and extreme cold.

    Link to this
  14. 14. AverageJoeSixPac 2:20 am 07/22/2011

    I forgot to mention the millions of people in Africa who have died from Malaria, when there is a perfectly good prevention,and very effective in killing mosquitos. Its called DDT. But like all things that Greenies screw up, they got it banned, and all based on a BIG LIE, that it harmed birds and caused cancer in humans. After all those deaths, and after all those years, the truth is now being told, It WAS a big lie.
    Way to go Greenies!

    Now we have a bigger hoax, the climate hoax, but as to date, no one can say how many people have died as the result of this climate hoax. Any figures at all? I’d think if the one degree rise in temperature was such a horrible thing, all the Saudies and Iranians would died off by now.

    Link to this
  15. 15. ~~~~~ 6:00 pm 07/22/2011

    > .038 percent is a TRACE AMOUNT.

    Anyone who makes this point has no clue what they’re talking about. A trace amount of something can have very significant effects.

    You might like to read other points but perhaps start here:

    http://skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-greenhouse-gas.htm

    CCS may be a very important technology. If all available carbon is burned without capture we’ll have multiplied atmospheric co2 levels several times over.

    Link to this

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