President Shelly Completes Tour of Carbon Capture, Sequestration at Alabama Power Plant

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Contact: Jared King
Communications Director
Navajo Nation Washington Office
Cell 202-200-0625

For Immediate Release

President Shelly Completes Tour of Carbon Capture, Sequestration at Alabama Power Plant

BUCKS, Ala.—Concluding a tour of how clean coal technology is being developed by Southern Company, Navajo President Ben Shelly spent the day at Alabama Power’s Barry Plant, just north of Mobile, to see how post-combustion carbon-capture works at a coal-fire electricity generating plant.

“I am convinced this is the way to go,” said the president. “Our plants near the Navajo Nation are aware of changes which need to happen. We can work together to make our plants compliant. We can partner with the U.S. Department of Energy.”

Southern Company has invested money to retrofit its existing coal-fired generating plant to develop technologies for compliance with U.S. EPA standards using carbon capture and geologic storage.

The Barry Plant carbon capture project is a pulverized coal plant, but the facility also has natural gas combined cycle units. Five units use pulverized coal, while two units use natural gas, alternating for cost efficiency.

An average of 500 metric tons a day of CO2 is captured using technology licensed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The CO2 is then compressed, transported through a pipeline, and injected 9,500 feet below the earth's surface for storage underneath a cap rock—a shale rock with no porosity. The lifetime storage capacity of formations in the area is very large and the storage integrity of the CO2 is estimated at a million years.

There are seven coal-fired generating plants adjacent to or near the Navajo Nation, which are being required by the federal government to change operating standards to reduce carbon or CO2 emissions.

President Shelly invited the carbon capture technical staff of Southern Company to the Navajo Nation, to see the conditions of CO2 emissions, and how retrofits can work on plants near the Navajo Nation.

“We want clean energy,” said the president. “With this technology, we can re-build our coal-fired generating plants.”

Under the Barry Plant process, emissions from the coal side of the plant are scrubbed, where pollutants are removed before being sent to compression. The stored CO2 is 99.7 percent pure.

Southern Company Geologist Richard Esposito discussed with the president a process of using CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR), also called Carbon Capture Utilization Storage (CCUS), to extract oil from wells where conventional methods prove difficult.

“This is just another way we can use our CO2 for oil recovery on the Navajo Nation,” said the president. “We can satisfy both Navajo Nation and U.S. EPA concerns, make good use of our CO2, and profit as well.”

Under this process, CO2 is compressed and injected into mature oil fields to increase oil recovery. This is an established industry practice utilized by oil companies. Yet limitations of available CO2 currently hamper additional projects from being developed.

There is an opportunity here for the Navajo Nation to use captured CO2 from a future clean coal plant to increase oil production on the Navajo Nation or to sell the CO2 using existing CO2 pipelines that run across the Navajo Nation, to be used in other areas.

The president also traveled to Citronelle, Ala., to the injection site, where the CO2 is pumped underground for permanent geologic storage. The liquid CO2 travels through a four inch pipe underground and is injected through a well nearly 2 miles deep below the earth’s surface.