EPA readies CO2 injection permits for FutureGen 2.0 coal project

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency went out for public comment on March 31 on draft permit approvals to allow the FutureGen Industrial Alliance to inject and store CO2 underground at a facility in Morgan County, Ill.

This CO2 injection is part of a plan by the alliance to repower part of the retired Meredosia power plant nearby with a clean coal technology called oxy-combustion. A key part of the FutureGen 2.0 project that helped it win U.S. Department of Energy funding is the plan to inject captured CO2 underground. This is one of several key projects in the U.S. designed to prove that carbon catpure and storage (CCS) is feasible. A current EPA proposal for CO2 limits for all new coal-fired power plants would mandate CCS for all such plants.

“These are the first Class VI permits for carbon sequestration in the United States,” EPA said in a public notice. “CO2 is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Carbon sequestration is a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“FutureGen would capture CO2 emissions from a coal-fired power plant in Meredosia formerly operated by Ameren Energy Resources,” the agency added. “FutureGen would then purify the CO2 and put it under high pressure to turn it into a liquid so it can be piped to four wells and injected deep into the ground. FutureGen plans four main wells and several additional wells that the company would use to monitor the injection, under EPA oversight.”

The four injection wells would be drilled from a single location to a depth of about 4,000 feet below ground. FutureGen plans to inject approximately 1.1 million metric tons of CO2 per year into the Mount Simon Sandstone formation over a period of 20 years, for a total of 22 million metric tons. Sequestering 1.1 million metric tons a year is the equivalent of removing 232,000 cars from the road.

The Illinois Commerce Commission on Feb. 20 granted the alliance a certificate to construct and operate the pipeline that would take the CO2 from the plant to the injection well site. The commission order prohibits the start of construction of the CO2 pipeline until the alliance obtains necessary permits from state, federal and local governmental entities.

The project is moving forward in various other ways. For example, Ameren Illinois on Feb. 10 filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a Procurement Services Agreement between Ameren Services as agent for and on behalf of Ameren Illinois and the Futuregen alliance. “The anticipated re-powering of Meredosia plant will require Ameren Illinois to relocate certain lines and facilities in and around the existing site,” the Feb. 10 filing noted. “The Procurement Agreement permits Ameren Illinois to begin procurement services to acquire the materials required for that work, in advance of full interconnection service.”

Also, DOE said Jan. 15 that it has decided to provide financial assistance to the alliance for the project. The record of decision approves the final environmental impact statement for the 168-MWe project. DOE will provide about $1bn of cost-share money through cooperative agreements with the alliance.

The repowered unit would include oxy-combustion and carbon capture technologies provided by the Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group and Air Liquide Process and Construction. Members of the alliance include some of the largest coal producers, coal users, and coal equipment suppliers in the world.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.