Sunday, February 15, 2009

Coal Storage Under Texas

Texas is considering offering tax incentives for energy companies to build “clean coal” plants. This session, Texas legislature is introducing SB 483, a bill that could, if passed, give companies up to $100 million in tax breaks for building coal plants that capture at least 60 percent of the carbon emissions created by the plant. (1)

There are three main types of geological storage available to those utilizing the carbon capture methods. One place to store carbon dioxide underground is in reservoirs that have been drained of oil and natural gas. Second, once useable gases have been taken from coal-rich areas that can’t be mined, those pockets in the ground can also be used to inject excess CO2. The third place carbon dioxide is stored is within porous saline formations, such as sandstone or limestone. (2)

Lawmakers in Texas are proposing that we use the saline formations abundant along the coast to store the easily transportable carbon dioxide. The sandstone and limestone buried deep under the Texas coastal region and just offshore would be ideal to store large amounts of these gases. (3)

Since Texas is a leader in coal consumption, SB 483 is a smart incentive to reduce carbon emissions in our state. Carbon capture plants cost about 50 percent more than a regular coal plant (2), so tax breaks would make the cleaner energy source more economically viable. Though coal is still “dirty” and there are other cleaner alternatives for energy, with coal such a cheap and abundant resource in our energy-needy state, carbon capture is an important step toward a cleaner environment.





TravisR said...

I happen to like this idea as it seems within out current capacity to carry out but I have one little concern. At least in the case of limestone reservoirs the injection of CO2 into water, forming carbonic acid, I would expect to be a risk of compromising the reservoir and allowing the CO2 to escape. Even in non-limestone reservoirs carbonates are common cements in clastics and would I think present the same risk for many other reservoirs. Unless I am some how mistaken I would expect that the injection would need to be accompanied by some sort of buffering to control for this which, if not already factored in, might further drive up the costs.

Michael E. Webber, Ph.D. said...

Rafi, do we need legislation to do this, or will there be a natural market emerge because of EOR? And, is CO2 reaily "easily piped?" I know it can be piped, but it's pretty energy-intensive to do so (because you first have to liquefy the CO2).