WASHINGTON, DC - Secretary of Energy Spencer
Abraham, speaking today to the National Coal Council,
announced that the Department of Energy will move into a
new, expanded phase of its program to develop "carbon
sequestration," a promising area of research in which
carbon emissions are captured and permanently stored
rather than being released to the atmosphere.
- Full Text
Secretary Abraham's remarks to the Coal Council
Secretary Abraham said that the federal government
intends to create a nationwide network of four to ten
"regional sequestration partnerships." He called on
industry, state and local agencies, universities, and
others to join with the Energy Department in forming the
"These regionally-focused efforts will become the
centerpiece of our sequestration program. They will help
us determine the technologies, regulations, and
infrastructure that are best suited for specific regions
of the country," Abraham said.
Secretary Abraham also announced that the Energy
Department has given the go-ahead to a research team
headed by American Electric Power (AEP) and Battelle to
begin studying potential sequestration sites in the Ohio
River Valley where carbon emissions from power plants
might be injected deep underground instead of being
released into the atmosphere.
"The focus will be on the deep saline formations that
lie thousands of feet below the surface -- well below
the aquifers commonly used for drinking water,"
Secretary Abraham said. "Theoretically, they could hold
all of the carbon dioxide emitted by the nation's
coal-burning power plants for the next 100 years. But we
will move deliberately, because we want to go as far and
as fast as the science takes us."
President Bush and others have singled out carbon
sequestration as one of the most promising new
approaches for countering the threat of global climate
change. In one of his first major addresses on climate
change, on June 11, 2001, the President said, "We all
believe technology offers great promise to significantly
reduce emissions ? especially carbon capture, storage
and sequestration technologies."
Secretary Abraham said that the Energy Department
will issue a solicitation notice later this month asking
industry, state and local agencies, universities and
others to begin forming the regional partnerships.
The government will offer up to $2 million per
partnership for initial planning efforts. Later, as much
as $7 million per partnership could be provided for
actual field verification tests and more detailed
regulatory and infrastructure planning. The first
partnerships are expected to be announced next spring.
The AEP/Battelle project will focus on one type of
sequestration ? the injection of carbon gases into
brine-filled formations thousands of feet underground.
Theoretically, these deep saline formations, which
underlie all or part of 35 states, could hold all of the
carbon dioxide emitted from the nation's coal-burning
power plants. The brackish water in these rock
formations is far too salty for human consumption, and
they exist well below drinking water aquifers.
Researchers will study whether the deep saline
formations beneath the Ohio-West Virginia border are
suitable for permanently entrapping large quantities of
carbon dioxide. The study is especially important
because it takes place in the heart of the largest
concentration of fossil fuel power plants in the nation.
AEP has volunteered its Mountaineer Plant in New Haven,
W.Va., as the test site for investigating the concept.
During the next 18 months, researchers will conduct
seismic surveys of the underground rock formations and
drill a 10,000-foot exploratory well on the power plant
property. No decision will be made on proceeding beyond
the current study phase until the subsurface geology is
deemed safe and suitable for carbon sequestration and
cost estimates have been prepared.
The Department, through its National Energy
Technology Laboratory (NETL), is providing $3.2 million
of the project's total $4.2 million cost. Other partners
providing financial and in-kind support include AEP, BP,
Battelle, and Schlumberger. The Ohio Coal Development
Office, part of Ohio's Department of Development, is
also supporting the project. Technical support to the
project will be provided by experts from NETL, Pacific
Northwest National Laboratory, West Virginia University,
the Ohio Division of Geological Survey, The Ohio State
University, and others.