Carbon capture and storage (CCS) in North America is about to have its year, Julio Friedmann, senior adviser for energy innovation at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said during the February 8 Global CCS Institute’s annual Americas Forum.
“We are just now like fully deployed and hopefully that will finally quash the idea, the persistent pernicious meme that CCS is some kooky technology that isn’t ready for prime time,” Friedmann said.
Coming into 2017, two commercial-scale CCS projects were operational in North America: SaskPower’s Boundary Dam Unit 3 coal-fired CCS retrofit in near Estevan, Saskatchewan (POWER’s Plant of the Year in 2015), and Shell Canada’s Quest CCS project on an oil sands upgrader in Alberta.
Just more than a month into the new year, an additional CCS project came online in Texas and another in Mississippi is reportedly days from reaching full operation.
Completion of the Petra Nova project, a massive CCS project near Houston, Texas, was announced in the first half of January. The project, a joint venture of NRG Energy and Japanese oil and gas exploration company JX Nippon, is the first commercial-scale project in the nation and the largest post-combustion CCS project in the world.
“It was a classic red-state sort of thing where they just said, ‘we’re going to roll up our sleeves and just do it and we’re going to tell you all when we’re done,’” Friedmann said of the project. “It is an incredibly impressive operation.”
Petra Nova was completed on time and on budget.
The Kemper County Energy Facility won’t be able to boast about the timing and budget accomplishments of Petra Nova, but it will also be a first-of-a-kind project. The project, owned by Southern Co. subsidiary Mississippi Power, will be the world’s first commercial-scale new-build coal-fired power plant with CCS.
The plant was originally scheduled to reach completion in 2014 and was billed at $2.4 billion. According to the company’s most recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the plant is now expected to cost a total of $7.1 billion. “It’s already mostly online; gasifiers running, and everything is functioning. They’re still integrating the system but it’s going to be a small amount of time,” Friedmann said.
According to the SEC filing the project will be “placed in service in late February 2017.”
Archer Daniels Midland is also nearing operation of its industrial CCS project near Decatur, Ill., pending approval of well permits by the Environmental Protection Agency.
While the advancement of these projects is welcome, Friedmann said, there is currently little left to look forward to. Once these projects have been completed, the pipeline of future CCS projects in North America will be dry.
“We have 2017 as a stellar year in North America. We have these new technologies coming into the market. We know we have the need to do this. We don’t have the projects on top of it. The message is not hard to fathom: now, baby, now. Spend the money, build the plants, get the job done,” Friedmann said.
720—Abby L. Harvey is a POWER reporter.