Washington, D.C. — Carbon dioxide (CO2) injection has begun at the world’s first fully integrated coal power and geologic storage project in southwest Alabama, with the goals of assessing integration of the technologies involved and laying the foundation for future use of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
The "Anthropogenic Test"—conducted by the Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SECARB), one of seven partnerships
in DOE’s Regional
Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program—uses CO2 from a newly constructed post-combustion CO2-capture facility at Alabama Power’s 2,657-megawatt Barry Electric Generating Plant (Plant Barry). It will help demonstrate the feasibility of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), considered by most energy experts as an important option for meeting the challenge of helping to reduce atmospheric CO2 emissions linked to potential climate change.
In a unique process developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a small amount of flue gas from Plant Barry—equivalent to the amount produced when generating 25 megawatts of electricity—is being diverted from the plant and captured using Mitsubishi’s advanced amine process to produce a nearly pure stream of CO2.
Once captured, the CO2 is transported approximately 12 miles west to the southern flank of a geologic structure called the Citronelle Dome, within the Paluxy saline formation. A pipeline was constructed for this purpose in 2011. The Paluxy is an ideal site for injection because it is more than 9,000 feet underground and is overlain by multiple geologic confining units that serve as barriers to prevent CO2 from escaping.
Carbon dioxide injection will take place over 2 years at a rate of up to 550 metric tons of CO2 per day. Multiple monitoring technologies will be deployed to track the CO2 plume, measure the pressure front, evaluate CO2 trapping mechanisms, and ensure that the CO2 remains in the formation. In 2017, following 3 years of post-injection monitoring, the site will be closed. At that time, the wells will either be plugged and abandoned according to state regulations, or re-permitted for CO2-enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) and CO2 storage operations. If re-permitted, CO2 that would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere would be used to recover stranded oil while also being sequestered in a geologic formation.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy established the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program in 2003 to determine the best geologic and terrestrial storage approaches for each partnership’s specific region and to demonstrate technologies to safely and permanently store CO2. While focusing on regional CCUS opportunities, the seven partnerships collectively form an effective and robust nationwide initiative. Each partnership has developed a regional carbon management plan to identify the most suitable storage strategies and technologies, aid in regulatory development, and propose appropriate infrastructure for CCUS commercialization within its region. FE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) manages the partnerships program.
SECARB estimates that 31 percent of the nation’s CO2 stationary source emissions come from within its region, which comprises all or part of 13 southeastern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The region’s deep saline and oil and gas formations offer safe and permanent storage capacity for these emissions. SECARB, along with the other Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships, continues to develop best practices to support the wide-scale transfer and advancement of information and technology derived from its projects.
SECARB’s Anthropogenic Test is led by the Southern States Energy Board in partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute, Southern Company, Alabama Power Company, Denbury Resources, Inc., Advanced Resources International, Inc., and other experts.