Washington, D.C. —Southern Company and the Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SECARB), one of seven members of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program, have announced plans to store carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from an existing coal-fired power plant. The project represents a major step toward demonstrating the viability of integrating carbon capture and storage to mitigate climate change.
This storage project, located in the Citronelle Oil Field north of Mobile, Ala., will inject CO2 captured from Alabama Power's Plant Barry into a deep saline reservoir 9,000 feet beneath the surface. Beginning in 2011 and continuing for at least 4 years, up to 150,000 tons of CO2 per year—the equivalent of emissions from 25 megawatts of Plant Barry's generating capacity—will be captured at the plant, transported via pipeline, and injected into the saline formation, which has oil-bearing formations above and below. A thorough monitoring process will be used to track the movement of the injected CO2 and ensure that it is safely and permanently stored.
SECARB, led by Southern States Energy Board, and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), which is coordinating this CO2 storage effort, selected the test site because it is representative of similar saline formations that are believed to have great potential for carbon storage. A conservative estimate by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has estimated the storage capacity for the formations—which underlie an area of approximately 46,000 square miles in southern Alabama and Mississippi, the Florida Panhandle, and Louisiana—at 10 billion metric tons of CO2.
The Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership program was initiated by the Office of Fossil Energy in 2003 as a response to geographic differences in fossil fuel use and storage potential across the United States. The seven regional partnerships form the centerpiece of national efforts to develop the infrastructure and knowledge base needed to accelerate these technologies on the path to commercialization. The program is managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).
The partnerships span 43 states, three Indian nations, and four Canadian provinces and include more than 350 organizations. Collectively, the partnerships represent regions that encompass 97 percent of U.S. coal-fired CO2 emissions, 97 percent of U.S. industrial CO2 emissions, 96 percent of the United States' total land mass, and essentially all the geologic sequestration sites in the United States potentially available for carbon storage.
SECARB covers 13 southeastern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia) and includes than 100 partners and stakeholders. CO2 injection at the Citronelle Oil Field is the second component of SECARB’s two-part, large-scale injection study which is exploring the potential for carbon storage in geological formations of the Southeast.
Each of the seven partnerships is conducting at least one large-volume CO2 storage field test as part of the development phase of the partnerships program. These large-volume tests will promote understanding of injectivity, capacity, and storability of CO2 in the various geologic formations identified by the partnerships. Results and assessments from these efforts will promote commercialization efforts for future carbon capture and storage projects in North America.