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AEP halts carbon capture technology advancement in US

EBR Staff Writer Published 19 July 2011

US-based electric utility, American Electric Power (AEP) has terminated its cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), thereby cancelling plans to advance its carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology at its Mountaineer coal-fired plant in West Virginia, US.

The company cited the current uncertain status of U.S. climate policy and the weak economy as reasons for halting plans for the CCS system at the plant.

In 2009, the DoE selected the AEP's CCS project to receive $334m federal funding for installation of a commercial-scale CCS system.

The system was expected to capture at least 90% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) from 235MW of the plant's 1,300MW of capacity.

The captured CO2, approximately 1.5 million metric tons per year, would be treated, compressed and stored about 1.5 miles below the earths' surface.

Project was originally planned to be completed in four phases with commercial operation starting in 2015.

The company said that it will complete the first phase of the project, consisting of front-end engineering and design, development of an environmental impact statement and development of a detailed phase two and three schedule, but will not move to the second phase.

DOE's share of the cost for the first phase will be about $16m.

AEP chairman and CEO Michael G. Morris said the company is placing the project on hold until economic and policy conditions create a viable path forward.

In October 2009, AEP and partner Alstom began operating a small scale validation of the same technology at the Mountaineer Plant.

The validation project, which received no federal funds, was closed as planned in May after meeting project goals and captured more than 50,000 metric tons of CO2 and permanently stored more than 37,000 metric tons of CO2.