Thursday, December 10, 2009

AEP says pilot carbon-capture-and storage facility costing less than half as much as recent estimates

American Electric Power, the country's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, says the first commercial-scale CO2-capture project, at its Mountaineer plant in West Virginia, has “exceeded expectations” and the company "will be able to retire 25 percent of its coal-burning power plants and install advanced carbon-capture equipment on the remaining 75 percent" by 2025, Becky Smith reports in The Wall Street Journal. “This still is an extremely expensive undertaking, but the answer is near at hand,” Morris told Smith.

On the Journal's Environmental Capital blog, Keith Johnson says the economics cited by Morris are "especially striking." Morris estimates that the cost of removing CO2 and storing it in a secure place will add only 4 cents per kilowatt-hour to the cost of elecriticity. That's a lot less than estimated earlier this year by Harvard University’s Belfer Center. "They figured the first generation of clean coal plants would add 8 cents to 12 cents per kilowatt hour," Johnson writes. "Only when clean coal is up and running around the world would the additional costs come down to between 2 cents and 5 cents, Belfer estimated."

Johnson says AEP may have made a breakthrough, but could also be following "a strategy to make sure that Washington invests heavily in clean-coal technology and offers cash premiums for storing the stuff, even as policy makers are threatening drastic environmental regulation of big polluters." (Read more)

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