September 12, 2011
While American Electric Power (AEP) may have pulled the plug on the carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project at the Mountaineer Plant in West Virginia, Archer Daniels Midland is moving forward with a CCS demonstration project at its ethanol plant in Decatur, Illinois. The facility will capture up to 1 million tons per year of CO2. The total project cost is $208 million, supported by about $141 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the $787 billion economic stimulus program enacted in February 2009 to stimulate the U.S. economy. ARRA included about $3.4 billion for CCS demonstration projects, and the Archer Daniels Midland project is the first large-scale integrated CCS demonstration project funded byARRA to move into construction phase. The project includes transporting the CO2 by pipeline for storage in the Mount Simon sandstone formation at depths of approximately 7,000 feet. According to the Department of Energy press release, the Mount Simon sandstone formation can potentially store billions of tons of CO2 and has the overall potential to sequester all of the more than 250 million tons of CO2 produced each year by industry in the Illinois Basin region. Operations at the ADM project are expected to commence in late summer 2013, and will managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory As noted by ClimateWire, the commencement of construction at the ADM project comes at a time when climate legislation is dead on Capitol Hill and other large CCS projects are defunct from lack of funds. Because the Mount Simon sandstone formation stretches across three states and is located near some of the nation’s highest-polluting coal plants and industrial factories, the lessons learned from this project are expected to be significant. And, given the controversy about the effectiveness of ARRA in stimulating the economy and creating jobs, it is nice to see an ARRA-funded CCS project actually moving to construction phase.