NewEnergyNews: CARBON: CAN’T BURY IT, CAN’T LIVE WITH IT

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    Tuesday, February 27, 2007

    CARBON: CAN’T BURY IT, CAN’T LIVE WITH IT

    Burying power plant CO2 has cost
    Hil Andersen, February 21, 2007 (UPI)
    - Burying the problem of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants is a particularly appealing response to climate change, but as with many a green energy idea, the concept of carbon sequestration still faces technical and financial hurdles…

    - Carbon sequestration has all of the appeal of sweeping dust under the rug; carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is captured…[and] is then pumped deep underground into geological formations that trap it if not forever at least for years…
    - Assistant Secretary of Energy Jeffrey Jarrett…announced $450 million in assistance over the next 10 years for a slate of projects aimed at commercializing carbon sequestration.
    - Slashing the U.S. output of carbon dioxide is seen worldwide as critical…Calculations by Massachusetts Institute of Technology peg the CO2 emissions from a large 1,000-megawatt U.S. power plant burning pulverized coal at between 6 and 8 metric tons per year; a natural gas plant emits about half that level…
    - …the political winds in Washington have shifted…Major U.S. industrial groups have stepped up their proclamations that they are on board…and they are counting on Yankee ingenuity in the form of research into technologies such as carbon sequestration to lead the way…

    - …the development of carbon sequestration is considered to be in its infancy and not ready for prime time. The Energy Department estimates that using current sequestration technology would cost utilities $100-$200 for each ton of carbon emissions kept out of the atmosphere. MIT estimated that translates to another 1.5-3.0 cents per kilowatt hour of retail electricity -- the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the average power consumption per household in the United States was 4,410 KwH in 2005…So it isn't practical to assume power generators can simply start injecting CO2 into the ground…
    - The $450 million ante thrown in by Jarrett was aimed primarily at studying the ability of underground reservoirs to securely contain large volumes of CO2 without the buoyant gas rising to the surface through porous rock and seeping into the atmosphere. An unrelated study…by researchers at MIT included the good news that CO2 injected into deep reservoirs of salty water would indeed stay…
    - The costs of sequestration…can include the cost of installing equipment, converting the emissions into a compressed form of CO2, pumping it to the storage site and maintaining the site. There is also…the electricity needed to run the capture equipment…

    - A top priority…is refinement of the compounds used to strip the CO2 out of a power plant's overall emissions stream. The most popular material is monoethanol amine, a smelly and corrosive chemical made from ammonia that… must be replenished frequently.
    - The Indiana Center for Coal Technology Research at Purdue University stated in a report earlier this month that "CO2 capture and storage using amine-based scrubbers, the only proven process to date, can consume about one-third of the plant's power output and increase the cost of electricity by 60 to 80 percent."
    - Such numbers are definitely enough to throw cold water on the idea…although the drive for an effective method of doing so is heating up fast.

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