Carbon Sequestration Program Adds Canadian Provinces
The U.S. Department of Energy announced that the Provinces of Alberta and British Columbia have joined Saskatchewan and Manitoba as Canadian partners in the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program, the centerpiece of North American efforts to validate and deploy carbon sequestration technologies. The program, a network of federal and state agencies, as well as private sector entities, will determine the most suitable technologies, regulations, and infrastructure for future carbon capture, storage, and sequestration in different areas of the country.
"Carbon sequestration technologies offer a way to significantly reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Maddox said. "We welcome the addition of Alberta and British Columbia as members of the Partnership and look forward to their valuable and significant contributions."
The Department of Energy selected seven original partnerships in August 2003. With the addition of organizations from Alberta and British Columbia, the partnerships now include 216 organizations spanning 40 states, three Indian nations, and four Canadian provinces.
The regional partnerships support President Bush's Global Climate Change Initiative, which calls for an 18 percent reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas intensity by 2012. They also complement the work of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, an international effort spearheaded by DOE to develop and deploy carbon capture and storage technologies worldwide.
The partnerships provide a critical link to the Administration's plans for FutureGen, a highly efficient and technologically sophisticated coal-fired power plant that will produce both hydrogen and electricity, with near-zero emissions. The partnerships will provide the regulatory, infrastructure, and site-selection basis for possible wide-scale deployment of FutureGen technology options in the future.
DOE is providing approximately $13.3 million to support the seven partnerships during the first phase of the program. The participating organizations are contributing another $6.9 million, an average of nearly 34 percent of the total funding. The partnerships are managed for the Energy Department by the Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory.
The two regional partnerships that added new partners from Canada are:
With thousands of conventional oil and gas fields, vast unconventional petroleum reserves, widespread coalfields, and a robust infrastructure, Alberta is one of the world's largest producers of energy and shares many of the geologic and physiographic characteristics of the existing partnership region. The fortunate circumstance of having these vast geologic formations adjacent to the boundaries of the United States makes the addition of Alberta to the DOE program a strategic opportunity for future mitigation of CO2 emissions.
The Alberta Energy and Utility Board and Alberta Environment will contribute information on Alberta CO2 sources, transportation infrastructure, and the vast geologic formations to the partnership's geographic information system and decision-support tools. Ducks Unlimited Canada will expand their work on characterizing the potential for Prairie Pot Hole Region Wetlands in Alberta to sequester carbon and offset other greenhouse gas emissions through future restoration projects.
British Columbia has a significant amount of hydrocarbon-bearing sedimentary basins that could be used to store CO2 while simultaneously enhancing the recovery of energy resources that otherwise could not be obtained. Within these sedimentary basins are saline reservoirs that have huge potential storage capacity but need better characterization. In addition, several mineral deposits exist that could be used in the future to permanently store carbon dioxide by converting it to a solid material.
The British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines, which has previous experience characterizing their geographic area for sequestration opportunities, will partner with WestCarb. The ministry has created a database of potential sequestration sites, CO2 sources, and transportation infrastructure. This information is being shared with WestCarb to help identify the best opportunities for the future deployment of carbon sequestration technologies throughout the WestCarb region.
In addition to the two expanded partnerships, the national network includes:
DOE is currently soliciting applications for a Phase II competition expected to begin later this year. The partnerships selected under the new solicitation will build upon the work of the Phase I partnerships and other organizations engaged in similar activities. While focusing on field validation tests at regional locations with the greatest promise of storing large quantities of CO2, the teams will also prove the environmental efficacy of sequestration, verify regional CO2 sequestration capacities, satisfy project permitting requirements, and conduct public outreach and education activities.
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