Driving Innovation – Plant Barry 25 MW Carbon Capture Demonstration
PEP member Alabama Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, recently made a presentation on its landmark 25-megawatt Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) demonstration project, which is located at Alabama Power’s Plant Barry, just north of Mobile in Citronelle, Ala. Southern Company has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the Electric Power Research Institute, Denbury Resources, Southern States Energy Board, rail companies and several international utilities, to effectively operate the CCS project, in which carbon dioxide (CO2) is captured, compressed, transported via pipeline, and injected deep into geological formations for permanent storage.
The Plant Barry project is currently the largest demonstration of carbon capture and sequestration on a coal-fired power plant in the United States. Of additional note, the project boasts the first CO2 pipeline permitted and constructed in the state of Alabama, as well as the first integration of a CO2 capture plant on a coal plant with pipeline transportation and injection for geological storage.
As a result of the project, approximately 150,000 tons of CO2 (the equivalent of emissions from the generation of 25 megawatts) are being captured annually. The captured CO2 is supplied to the Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SECARB) for transport through a 12-mile pipeline to the Citronelle oil field, where it is injected and permanently stored (or sequestered) 9,500 feet underground in a deep geological formation, where it remains safely and permanently trapped.
The project was awarded the PEP Environmental Stewardship Award when it was launched in 2012. Since then, it was awarded the Industry Excellence Chairman’s Award from the Southeastern Electric Exchange in 2014, and in October 2015, the project received funding of more than $800,000 from the U.S. DOE.
Currently, the project’s overall capture rate is 90 percent of CO2 from flue gas, with a maximum capture rate of 95 percent and lower steam consumption than the conventional process. According to project engineers, a start-to-finish demonstration of carbon capture technology on the scale of the Plant Barry project is an important step toward establishing the technology’s viability and economic feasibility for commercial use. Going forward, they hope to use the Plant Barry demonstration project to advance saline sequestration technology through large field tests, characterize CCS operations to support larger scale development and deployment, and continue outreach and education to ensure seamless deployment.
The Plant Barry project is unique in that it has integrated technology, which other demonstrations of carbon capture have not. According to Southern Company Environmental Control Research and Development Manager Nick Irvin, who developed the project, while none of the technologies are new individually, they have never been previously demonstrated together. By combining the technologies, the team has been able to identify improvements by seeing how the parts work together, which leads to strategic implementation for those technologies in new and improved ways for future use. As a process, CCS is a viable option in curbing global warming through the prevention of the release of CO2 into the atmosphere, by reducing CO2 emissions from power plants that burn fossil fuels by as much as 90 percent.