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Friday funding facts – II: Smart Grid demo projects

Expect to see the DOE, the EPA and other federal agencies make some major announcements next week to coincide with the big Copenhagen conference. The DOE, for example, just issued a news advisory that it will be holding a news conference that will include a fascinating group that includes Secretary Chu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property David Kappos, Arun Majumdar, director of the new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy and “green technology patent holders.” So, next week should be interesting for the science community.

Along the same vein, today the DOE announced nearly it was investing nearly $1 billion in three projects planned by some of the major utilities located in coal-producing regions in the U.S. that “demonstrate advanced coal-based technologies that will capture and sequester or put to beneficial use carbon emissions.” The DOE monies are supposed to also leverage more than $2 billion in private-sector funds, presumably from the utility companies, themselves, and their partners.

The agency says the general goals are to 1) reach a CO2 capture efficiency of 90%, 2) develop capture/sequestration methods that add less than 10% to the cost of electricity for gasification systems and less than 35% for combustion and oxycombustion systems, and 3) capture and sequester or put to beneficial a minimum of 300,000 tons of CO2 per year.

The 10-year American Electric Power Company (Columbus) project involves a chilled-ammonia process to capture and store CO2. According to the DOE, after AEP captures the CO2 it will be treated, compressed, and sent via pipeline to  injection sites located near the capture facility. Two injections sites (saline formations) are located approximately 1.5 miles below the surface. Besides AEP, the big players in the project ar APCo, Schlumberger Carbon Services, Battelle Memorial Institute, CONSOL Energy and Alstom.

Southern Company Services (Birmingham) will have an 11-year project to retrofit a CO2 capture plant on a 160 megawatt flue gas stream at an existing coal-fired power plant. The CO2 will be compressed and transported through a pipeline, and up to one million metric tons per year of CO2 will be sequestered – also saline formations. SCS is also going to test the use of pumping CO2 underground to increase oil recovery in existing petroleum wells. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Schlumberger Carbon Services, Advanced Resources International, the Geological Survey of Alabama, EPRI, Stanford University, the University of Alabama, AJW Group and the University of Alabama at Birmingham are also involved.

Finally Summit Texas Clean Energy will be spending eight years attempting to match a 400-megawatt gasification system in Texas with carbon capture technologies that they hope will be 90 percent efficient. Like SCS, Summit is says it will used pump the CO2 into oil wells. The Univ. of Texas will design and assure compliance with monitoring, verification and accounting program goals.