Friday, September 25, 2009

West Virginia power plant to become first to capture and bury some of its carbon dioxide

American Electric Power's Mountaineer plant in New Haven, W.Va., is poised to become the world's first commercial power plant to capture some of its carbon-dioxide emissions and bury them underground when a new system goes online in the coming days. "The hope is that the gas will stay deep underground for millennia rather than entering the atmosphere as a heat-trapping pollutant," Matthew L. Wald of The New York Times reports.

AEP plans to begin the experiment with two wells that will use between 15 and 30 percent of the plant's energy output. Plans call for Mountaineer to bury 100,000 tons annually for two years, about 1.5 percent of the plant's emissions. The economic viability of Mountaineer's plan remains uncertain, Wald reports; some energy experts argue that the process could prove more expensive that solar or nuclear power. Environmentalists also fear that once the carbon dioxide is injected into the ground it might pollute water supplies and cause earthquakes, though the Environmental Protection Agency says the latter is highly unlikely.

Environmental groups also fear that success of the project might lead industry and government officials to drag their heels in investments in renewable energy, Wald reports. “Coal is the drug of choice of a major industry with a lot of political power,” David H. Holtz, executive director of Progress Michigan, an environmental group, told Wald. Many scientists emphasize Mountaineer's location, within a dozen miles of four other plants, in the so-called "Megawatt Alley" as a reason for optimism. Wald writes: "If the technology spread to all of them in a cost-effective way, many say, it could have a broad impact on the coal industry." (Read more)

1 comment:

Cyberdoyle said...

At school, (a long time ago) I learnt that green living things needed carbon dioxide to grow, and gave off oxygen. Is there no scientific way to use the stuff instead of wasting it? I am all for recycling! Just like the heat generated in data centres could be utilised to grow food. We cool our milk with water cooler, and the warm water is gravity fed to the cow barn.

Just a thought. I am not a scientist.