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DOE to Award $197M to First Three Large-Scale Carbon Sequestration Projects

The Bellona strategy for reducing CO2 emissions including the contribution of the three primary elements: energy efficiency, renewables and CCS. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $197M to the first three large-scale carbon sequestration projects in the United States and the largest single set in the world to date. These projects are the first of several sequestration demonstration projects planned through DOE’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships.

Coincidentally, the Bellona Foundation, a multi-disciplinary international environmental NGO based in Oslo, Norway, published a position paper highlighting the importance of carbon capture and sequestration as a key element in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The three projects—Plains Carbon Dioxide Reduction Partnership; Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership; and Southwest Regional Partnership for Carbon Sequestration—will conduct large-volume tests for the storage of one million or more tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in deep saline reservoirs. The $197M investment will run over ten years, subject to annual appropriations from Congress. The projects have a total estimated value including partnership cost share of $318 million.

The formations to be tested during this third phase of the regional partnerships program are recognized as the most promising of the geologic basins in the United States. Collectively, these formations have the potential to store more than one hundred years of CO2 emissions from all major point sources in North America.

The projects include participation from 27 states and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. They will demonstrate the entire CO2 injection process—pre-injection characterization, injection process monitoring, and post-injection monitoring—at large volumes to determine the ability of different geologic settings to permanently store CO2.

The projects awarded today are as follows:

  • Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership. The Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership, led by the Energy & Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota, will conduct geologic CO2 storage projects in the Alberta and Williston Basins.

    The Williston Basin project in North Dakota will couple enhanced oil recovery and CO2 storage in a deep carbonate formation that is also a major saline formation. The CO2 for this project will come from a post-combustion capture facility located at a coal-fired power plant in the region.

    A second test will be conducted in northwestern Alberta, Canada, and will demonstrate the co-sequestration of CO2 and hydrogen sulfide from a large gas-processing plant into a deep saline formation. This will provide data about how hydrogen sulfide affects the sequestration process.

    The Plains partnership includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin, along with the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

    Total Project Cost: $135,586,059; DOE Share: $67,000,000; Partner Share: $68,586,059

  • Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership. Led by Southern States Energy Board, this project will demonstrate CO2 storage in the lower Tuscaloosa Formation Massive Sand Unit. This geologic formation stretches from Texas to Florida and has the potential to store more than 200 years of CO2 emissions from major point sources in the region.

    The partnership will inject CO2 at two locations to assess different CO2 streams and how the heterogeneity of the formation affects the injection and containment. Injection of several million tons of CO2 from a natural deposit is expected to begin in late 2008. The project will then conduct a second injection into the formation using CO2 captured from a coal-fired power plant in the region.

    The results of these projects will provide the foundation for the future development of CO2 capture and storage opportunities. The Southeast partnership covers Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and southeast Texas.

    Total Project Cost: $93,689,242; DOE Share: $64,949,079; Partner Share: $28,740,163

  • Southwest Regional Partnership for Carbon Sequestration. Coordinated by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the Southwest Regional Partnership for Carbon Sequestration will inject several million tons of CO2 into the Jurassic-age Entrada Sandstone Formation in the southwestern United States. The Entrada formation stretches from Colorado to Wyoming and is a significant storage reservoir in the region.

    The partnership will inject CO2 into the formation after extensive baseline characterization and simulation modeling. The project will test the limits of injection and demonstrate the integrity of the cap rock to trap the gas. Information gained from the project will be used to evaluate locations throughout the region where future power plants are being considered. The Southwest partnership includes the states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah, and portions of Texas, Wyoming, and Arizona.

    Total Project Cost: $88,845,571; DOE Share: $65,437,395; Partner Share: $23,408,176

These three projects will double the number of large-volume carbon storage demonstrations in operation worldwide. Current projects include the Weyburn Project in Canada, which uses CO2 captured during coal gasification in North Dakota for enhanced oil recovery (earlier post); Norway’s Sleipner Project, which stores CO2 in a saline formation under the North Sea (earlier post); and the In Salah Project in Algeria, which stores CO2 in a natural gas field. The successful demonstration of carbon storage in these US geologic basins by the Regional Partnerships will play a crucial role in future infrastructure development and sequestration technology to mitigate CO2 emissions.

The newly awarded projects kick off the third phase (deployment) of the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program. This initiative, launched by DOE in 2003, forms the centerpiece of national efforts to develop the infrastructure and knowledge base needed to place carbon sequestration technologies on the path to commercialization.

During the first phase of the program (characterization), seven partnerships—consisting of organizations from government, industry and academia, and extending across the United States and into Canada—characterized the potential for CO2 storage in deep oil-, gas-, coal-, and saline-bearing formations. (Earlier post.)

When Phase I ended in 2005, the partnerships had identified more than 3,000 billion metric tons of potential storage capacity in promising sinks. This has the potential to represent more than 1,000 years of storage capacity from point sources in North America.

In the program’s second phase (validation), the partnerships implemented a portfolio of small-scale geologic and terrestrial sequestration projects. The purpose of these tests was to validate that different geologic formations have the injectivity, containment, and storage effectiveness needed for long-term sequestration.

The Bellona Paper. The new position paper from the Bellona Foundation concludes that a global deployment of CO2Capture and Storage (CCS) is a necessary solution to reduce global CO2 emissions by 50-80% by 2050 to avoid worse consequences of global warming.

Scenarios from the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicate that the potential for reduced CO2 emissions through enhanced energy efficiency and increased renewable energy production is limited. CO2 Capture and Storage (CCS) is a technology with potential for large reductions in CO2-emissions within 10 to 20 years. Therefore, according to Bellona, the strategy for reducing global CO2-emission must be a combination of:

  • Increased energy efficiency;

  • More renewable energy production; and

  • A wide implementation of CCS.




Projects 1 and 2 will use CO2 that somehow the project operators can guarantee they can capture. Project 3 presumably will use lab quality CO2 prepared offsite. The pilot projects will report back in a decade. I have a sneaking suspicion then they will ask for another decade to scale up. Only trouble is the world's powerplants should be producing billions of tons less CO2 by then, not waiting on the results of experiments.

I suggest speeding up one of the actual fuel burning projects to report back in one year, otherwise we'll think it is a stalling tactic by the fossil fuel industry helped by DoE.


Anyone know how much this sequestering costs in terms of tons of CO2 per dollar if everything goes as expected?


No surprise here, CCS and alternative fuels won't be enough, improvement of efficiency will do most of the job. Bad news for the "big three" and for the american lifestyle in general. Efficiency of ICE can be improved but by 20/30% at best, the rest will require serious downsizing. Amigos kiss your SUV

Costs of carbon sequestration at the very low end is $10/ton CO2. Typically now at $100-$300/Ton CO2.
"Using present technology, estimates of sequestration costs are in the range of $100 to $300/ton of carbon emissions avoided. The goal of the program is to reduce the cost of carbon sequestration to $10 or less per net ton of carbon emissions avoided by 2015. Achieving this goal would save the U.S. trillions of dollars." (Gov. data, google "Using present technology, estimates of sequestration"

You can do the math, at $200/ton, electricity generation from coal will increase the cost from about $0.10/KWH to $0.23/KWH. Here's the other factoid:
A typical 1000MW coal plant produces 6 million tons of co2 per year.
IMHO carbon sequestration is idiotic.


anon: Where do you get your numbers from? The last numbers I saw (from a Simon Fraser University prof.) was 3 to 6 cents/kwh.

richard schumacher

Bellona's website makes them sound like the Norwegian Greenpeace, with a special horror of Russian nuclear activities. Their CCS position paper *assumes* that nuclear energy will be phased out. Since it is clear that nuclear power must be a large part of energy policy, this makes Bellona's conclusions suspect.

From the recent rates of increase of atmospheric CO2 and of worldwide human emissions of CO2 one can estimate that halting the increase in atmospheric CO2 would require reducing emissions by at least 2.5 Gtons annually. This is equivalent to four thousand cubic miles (10,000 km^3) of CO2 at atmospheric pressure annually. Capturing, compressing, transporting, and permanently sequestering that much CO2 annually is impossible.

richard schumacher

Correction: 4,000 miles^3 is about 16,000 km^3.


Neil, the $100-$300/ton figure you can google to a gov. website (I can't http because it looks like spam). The amt of co2 from a 1000MW coal plant I got from a wikipedia article (see "Carbon dioxide sink") where that number is referenced (I didn't check the reference) and that same wikipedia article also suggests that sequestration will cost between 10-12 cents more per KWh. The math I did to get my figure was very straight forward.

6.00E+06 tons of co2 per year per 1000MW plant times $200/ton = $1.2E+09 cost of co2 sequestration per 1000MW plant per year.
1000 MW
1000 KW/MW
365 days a year
24 hours per day
8,760,000,000.00 KWh per 1000MW plant per year
$0.10 cost of electricity per KWh
$876,000,000.00 value of electricity produced
$0.236986301 cost of electricity with sequestration passed on.

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