Coal bed methane and CCS
Posted by Evan Herrnstadt on December 16, 2008
Although I’m unsure that carbon capture and sequestration is the sliver bullet that it’s made out to be, it clearly is a technology worth exploring. We do have a ridiculous amount of cheap coal in this nation, and a way to somehow use it without spitting a bunch of carbon into the atmosphere would be welcome. Right now, one way to progress on this front is to test permanency of CCS deposits. The Southeastern Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SECARB) has one such project going on right now (not surprisingly covered in a West Virginia newspaper). CO2 is sequestered deep in coal seams, which currently hold methane. The seams have an affinity for CO2, thus the methane is captured for use while the CO2 remains below. This value-added type of CCS is more economically viable than straight CCS, although still a net loss without a carbon price. However, opportunities are obviously limited in quantity. A major risk argument against CCS is going to be storage permanence; if CCS technologies become viable, long-term small-scale demonstrations are going to provide extremely useful information to back up the best predictions of models.