Deep geologic formations beneath plant site
The Mountaineer project aimed to achieve a minimum 90% carbon capture rate from 235MW of Mountaineer’s 1300 MW capacity at a less than 35% increase in electricity cost. It was expected to store CO2 at a rate of 1.5 million tonnes per year in deep saline reservoirs. The commercial-scale demonstration plant was to use Alstom’s chilled ammonia technology for CO2 capture from flue gases.
Despite receiving federal funding towards its demo CCS project at the Mountaineer coal-fired power plant in West Virginia, in February 2011, American Electric Power (AEP) has since terminated a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Energy (DoE) and placed commercial-scale plans on hold. The company cited the uncertainties of US climate policy and a weak national economy as the reasons for its decision. Read the company's press release here.
The project submitted its FEED report in February 2012. Read it in full here.
International enterprise Battelle and services provider Schlumberger were due to work with AEP to design and develop the CCS system. Other CCS experts involved in the project included MIT, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the West Virginia and Ohio geological surveys and CONSOL Energy.
AEP and Alstom began operating a small-scale test of the technology at Mountaineer in September 2009, capturing up to 90% of CO2 from 20MW of generating capacity. The captured gas – at a rate of more than 100,000 tonnes per annum – is being compressed and injected for permanent storage about 1.5 miles below ground. Alstom's chilled ammonia process has been selected for the project on the basis of this successful demonstration. The final system will be at 12 times the scale of the demo.
The capture system was initially being developed to treat a minimum volume of flue gas equivalent to that of a 235MW plant, but the current design is
capable of treating a flue gas volume equivalent to that of a 260MW plant.
The estimated cost of the commercial-scale CCS facility is about $668 million. The third round of the US’ Clean Coal Power Initiative provided $334 million, and the GCCSI pledged $4.01 million towards initial engineering and characterisation.
Mountaineer was to be carried out in four phases, the completed Phase I being project definition. The remaining phases are on hold until further notice, namely Phase II (design and permitting), Phase III (construction and start-up – originally January 2013-August 2015), and Phase IV (operations – originally September 2015-June 2019).
More information and press releases
A state media article recently compared the benefits of CCS with IGCC, using Mountaineer as an example. Read the article here.
DoE funding announcement, 4 December 2009
AEP Selected to Receive DOE Funds to Advance Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage to Commercial Scale (December 2009)
Mountaineer Powerplant starts CCS (October 2009)
RWE join AEP in validation of CCS technology (November 2007)
First Utility-Scale CO2 Deployment Shows Value of Private-Public Joint Ventures (March 2007)
Drilling Begins to Evaluate W_newest Virginia Site for Carbon Sequestration (July 2003)
The FEED report states that captured CO2 will be transported by pipeline to two planned injection wells. Characterisation work has identified two zones within the Copper Ridge formation, around 1.5 miles below ground, as being suitable for storage. Specific testing and monitoring requirements are not known yet as an Underground Injection Control permit has not yet been issued. More information about the characterisation work - carried out from December 2010 to March 2011- can be found in the Phase 1 FEED report from February 2012. The current planned system is comprised of two injections wells, four intermediate and nine deep monitoring wells, and eight groundwater monitoring wells.