/PRNewswire / -- Southern Company today announced plans to demonstrate carbon capture and sequestration on a coal-fired power generation plant to support the development of technologies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Along with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI), the Electric Power Research Institute and other partners, Southern Company will build a demonstration facility to capture carbon dioxide emissions from an existing unit of subsidiary Alabama Power's Plant Barry near Mobile, Ala.
Beginning in 2011, between 100,000 and 150,000 tons of CO2 per year - the equivalent of emissions from 25 megawatts of the plant's generating capacity - would be captured for permanent underground storage in a deep saline geologic formation.
The CO2 will be supplied to the DOE's Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SECARB), which will transport it by pipeline from the plant and store it underground at a site within the area of the Citronelle Oil Field, about 10 miles from the plant, operated by Denbury Resources. The Southern States Energy Board is leading the SECARB effort.
"This project will help increase our knowledge of carbon capture and sequestration, technology we must demonstrate at a commercial level in the effort to reliably generate electricity using coal with reduced greenhouse gas emissions," said David Ratcliffe, Southern Company chairman, president and CEO.
"The main challenge facing deployment of carbon capture and sequestration technology is demonstrating its effectiveness at a large scale," Ratcliffe added. "Our involvement in this and other related projects is part of our commitment to be a leader in finding solutions that make technological, economic and environmental sense."
With carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), CO2 released during the combustion of coal would be separated from the flue gas, compressed, and then permanently sequestered - or stored - deep underground.
The CO2 capture technology to be used in this project, called KM-CDR(TM), was jointly developed by MHI and the Kansai Electric Power Company Inc. It deploys an advanced amine-based solvent that reacts readily with CO2 in flue gas before being separated and compressed so that it is ready for pipeline transport.
The MHI process offers improved performance and lower cost than other existing capture technologies. The process has been demonstrated at smaller scale at a coal-fired generating station in Japan, and is currently being deployed commercially on natural gas-fired systems around the world. This project represents the largest coal-fired demonstration of the technology.
"We are excited to be a partner in this important project that will help further the global goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions for the benefit of everyone," said Shunichi Miyanaga, executive vice president and representative director general manager of MHI's Machinery & Steel Structures Headquarters. "The confidence our partners have shown in the MHI CO2 capture technology is a testament to the research and development efforts we have undertaken during the past 20 years. Together with our partners, we are ready to deploy and demonstrate to the world the safety and viability of commercial-scale CCS."
An important part of any CO2 sequestration project is site selection through geologic characterization and a robust program to monitor the injected CO2. Therefore, a thorough monitoring process will be deployed to map the movement of the sequestered CO2.
Through this project and others, Southern Company and its partners seek to support the goal of better understanding the impacts of reducing CO2 emissions from electricity generation. The project in Alabama is designed to demonstrate start-to-finish CCS technology, an important step toward commercialization.
Plant Barry, located in Bucks, Ala., has a total capacity of 2,525 megawatts and includes seven generating units -- five coal-fired units and two natural gas-fired combined-cycle units.
Southern Company, an industry leader in technology research and development, is working with the federal government and other partners in several major CCS research projects. In one, Southern Company subsidiary Mississippi Power's Plant Daniel is the host site for a demonstration in which 3,000 tons of CO2 recently were injected into a deep saline rock formation 8,500 feet below ground. Monitoring of its movement deep in the ground and under multiple geological seals is now under way.
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