Carbon Sequestration and Offsets Solutions
The following is a brief overview of carbon sequestration and offsets solutions undertaken by members of C2ES's Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC).
For more information on each of these companies efforts to address climate change, please see the Businesses Leading The Way section of this Web site.
Air Products and Chemicals
Air Products is a technology developer and provider for the CO2 Capture Project (CCP), which is an international effort by seven of the world’s leading energy companies. This project seeks to develop new technologies to reduce the cost of capturing CO2 from combustion sources and safely storing it underground. It is a collaborative effort involving partnerships with governments, industry, NGO’s and other stakeholders.
Under the CCP, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. has directly contributed to projects, including early development of sorption enhanced water gas shift process and advancing the feasibility study of retrofitting boilers and fired heaters with oxy-fuel burner systems.
Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. is also participating as a partner in the CANMET programs exploring means to increase efficiency in energy-intensive industries, develop more efficient hydrocarbon conversion processes, and reduce emissions, including CO2, from fossil fuel combustion.
Alcoa plants thousands of trees annually near their operations and service areas, sequestering thousands of tons of CO2 every year.
In 2003, Alcoa employees fulfilled a goal to plant one million trees around the world in ten years—and did so in half the time. A new company goal is for employees to plant 10 million trees by the year 2020.
BP is a member of the CO2 Capture Research Project (CCP), an international effort by seven of the world’s leading energy companies. BP is learning from its CO2 geologic storage facility in Algeria, where it will be storing around one million tons of CO2 a year beginning in 2004.
B P is working with the MIT Energy Laboratory as part of a consortium researching the environmental impacts, technological approaches, and economic issues associated with carbon sequestration. The MIT research focuses on efforts to better understand and reduce the cost of carbon separation and sequestration.
BP is contributing to the development of a Blue Chip Standard, as part of the Climate and Biodiversity Alliance, for demonstrating the contribution of forestry projects to the goal of atmospheric greenhouse gas stabilization. This standard will support the creation of carbon sequestration credits that are generally recognized and therefore tradable.
BP’s Global Choice program allows Australian business customers to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from their fuel consumption. Participation in the program is free for companies purchasing BP Ultimate or bp autogas and only 1-2 cents per liter to offset regular unleaded or diesel fuels. The offsets are independently audited and certified by the Australian Federal Government’s Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO). Since November 2001, over 6,500 customers have offset 626,095 tonnes of greenhouse gases.
Delta Air Lines, Inc.
Delta was the first U.S. airline to offer carbon offsets to its customers through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Proceeds benefit a forest conservation, reforestation and wildlife habitat restoration project in Louisiana’s Tensas River Basin. In 2010 Delta, together with its customers, contributed more than $75,000 towards this project, the equivalent of offsetting the CO2 emissions of ten 747 flights from Tokyo to Detroit.
Dominion has supported a number of research projects designed to commercialize carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. For example, the company contributed $500,000 to the Virginia Center for Coal & Energy Research at Virginia Tech where scientists are studying carbon dioxide storage in the unmineable coal seams of Central Appalachia.
Some of the most promising sites for carbon storage are in Virginia’s coalfield region near the company’s new Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, which Dominion designed to accommodate CCS technology once it is becomes available.
DTE Energy seeks opportunities to sequester carbon dioxide and capture methane escaping from landfills. Since 1995, DTE Energy has planted 20 million trees in Michigan alone and DTE Biomass landfill projects have captured the equivalent of nearly 20 million tons of CO2.
DTE Energy is a participating member of the UtiliTree Carbon Company. UtiliTree is a consortium of 41 utilities organized by the Edison Electric Institute to invest in a portfolio of forestry projects that manage GHG emissions, particularly CO2. A $3.2 million investment in eight domestic and two international projects will capture over 3 million tons of CO2 over the life of these projects.
DTE is a founding member of PowerTree Carbon Company, LLC, a voluntary carbon sequestration initiative. PowerTree, which has 25 member companies, will invest $3.4 million for reforestation of over 3,800 acres of bottomland hardwood projects in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The project will sequester over 2 million tons of CO2 over the 100-year project term.
In 2010, Duke Energy and ENN Group, one Duke's Chinese partners, conducted a joint study to test the ability of various strains of algae to remove carbon dioxide
(CO2) from coal-fi red power plant emissions. This was the first study to use CO2 from power-plant flue gas instead of pure CO2. The team of scientists found that
several strains of algae grew just as well using flue gas instead of pure CO2, an important indicator that these strains could be a good fi t for potential CO2 mitigation
Entergy plants thousands of trees annually on their landholdings, sequestering thousands of tons of CO2 every year.
Entergy in partnership with Trust for Public Land and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is acquiring 1,600 acres of land adjacent to the Tensas River Wildlife Refuge, restoring bottom land hardwood habitat on marginal croplands and donating the improved land to USFWS who will manage the property. This will sequester 640,000 tons of CO2 over the next 70 years.
Entergy in partnership with the Conservation Fund, USFWS and Friends of the Red River, dedicated the Red River Wildlife Refuge in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and established a 600 acre sequestration site that will create 225,000 tons of CO2 offset credits over the next 70 years.
Entergy has leased 30,000 tons of CO2 offset credits from the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association (PNDSA). Credits are generated by growers who have agreed to use direct seed agriculture methods for at least 10 years. Direct seed cultivation avoids soil losses from oxidation associated with traditional farming techniques and also reduces the growers’ fuel use and soil erosion.
In December 2003, Entergy became the first U.S. utility to purchase carbon emissions credits from geological sequestration projects. These projects capture CO2 vent gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and then place them into oil-bearing geologic formations for use in enhanced domestic oil recovery. Under this program, Entergy plans to purchase over 2,800,000 metric tons of CO2e emission reduction credits by the end of 2005.
Entergy is a participating member of the UtiliTree Carbon Company. UtiliTree is a consortium of 41 utilities organized by the Edison Electric Institute to invest in a portfolio of forestry projects that manage GHG emissions, particularly CO2. A $3.2 million investment in eight domestic and two international projects will capture over 3 million tons of CO2 over the life of these projects.
PECO and Exelon have committed $150,000 to TreeVitalize, an aggressive four-year, $8 million partnership to plant more than 20,000 shade trees and restore 1,000 acres of forested riparian buffers in southeastern Pennsylvania. Tree cover (percent of land covered by trees and shrubs) has been decreasing in the five-county Greater Philadelphia region due mainly to the combined impacts of suburban sprawl and urban decay. In response to a study highlighting the loss of tree cover, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources launched TreeVitalize.
Planting alone is not sufficient to address the loss of tree cover. Both existing and new trees need better care. TreeVitalize will work with municipalities to identify tools to promote improved tree care. TreeVitalize will also collaborate with community groups to nurture volunteers by providing training for 2,000 citizens in proper tree care techniques.
For more info, visit the TreeVitalize website at http://www.treevitalize.net/.
Working in partnership to restore prairie grass
Exelon has restored more than 110 acres of natural prairie habitat on buffer lands and rights of way in Illinois since the initiative’s beginning in 1994. This effort is helping to sequester CO2, restore wildlife habitat, prevent runoff and improve water quality.
In 2004, restoration work continued on several significant Illinois projects. We partnered with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County to manage transmission rights of way in conjunction with a larger restoration project. An ecosystem lease was signed for the county to manage our property, which was a first for Exelon. And in Will County, we restored four acres along a transmission right of way adjacent to a larger restoration project. Another six acres of prairie were restored adjacent to a Forest Preserve District of Will County restoration project along the DuPage River.
Exelon is currently evaluating 10 to 15 additional acres of company rights of way and buffer lands for possible restoration.
Capturing CO2 emissions through tree plantings
During 2004, Exelon maintained its participation in PowerTree Carbon Company, LLC, an initiative formed in 2003 by 25 U.S. power generators as part of a voluntary industry response to climate change. Member companies committed more than $3 million for reforestation in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. The projects will remove from the atmosphere and store more than 2 million tons of CO2 over their projected 100-year lifetimes. Exelon will be entitled to claim approximately 3 percent of the sequestered CO2.
As of December 31, 2004, PowerTree Carbon Company had planted in excess of 2,000 acres of seedlings, using native tree species. Projects typically involve planting on a 12- by 12-foot spacing for an initial tree density Periodic monitoring using peer-reviewed methodologies measures above- and below-ground carbon stores.
The Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley once contained nearly 22 million acres of bottomland hardwoods that have been reduced to approximately 4 million acres as a result of decades of flood control measures and conversion of forestlands to marginal farmland. Benefits from PowerTree Carbon Company, LLC projects beyond carbon sequestration include restoration of habitat for birds and other wildlife, reduction of fertilizer inputs to water bodies and increased soil stabilization. This initiative will help to advance the science behind carbon sequestration as a GHG mitigation option.
For more info, visit the PowerTree website at http://www.powertreecarboncompany.com/.
Managing trees along rights of way
Exelon maintains almost 56,000 miles of overhead electric lines in its distribution system and more than 6,000 miles of transmission rights of way. Our vegetation management program uses safe, reliable and cost-effective methods, including tree trimming, removal and herbicide application. These methods follow the standards set by the American National Standards Institute, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the International Society of Arboriculture.
PECO maintains its 12,150 miles of distribution lines on a five-year cycle, ComEd its 43,700 miles on a four-year cycle. Our transmission rights of way on state, local and federal lands – through prairies, wetlands, woods, agricultural land, suburban and urban areas and along highways and railroad corridors – are maintained on a five-year cycle, with annual comprehensive surveys of conditions.
ComEd is converting sections of transmission rights of way to native grasses and to date has converted 110 acres. Through the Municipal Tree Restoration Program, PECO encourages customers to plant the right tree in the right place to help minimize contact with wires. Both PECO and ComEd support municipalities by funding the removal and replacement of diseased, weakened or tall-growing trees under our overhead conductors. ComEd and PECO support National Arbor Day by working with school groups, municipalities and civic organizations to supply trees and planting training. ComEd is a five-year recipient of the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Line USA Award.
For more info on tree plantings near power lines visit PECO's Compatible Trees for Planting Under or Near Power Lines.
As part of NRG's aggressive effort to transition to a low-carbon economy, it is currently exploring a variety of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects including post-combustion technologies to capture CO2 from the flue gas of a power plant and place it in safe geological formations for permanent sequestration.
NRG's post-combustion CCS demonstration project at WA Parish near Houston, Texas, will be among the first of its kind and is expected to begin operating in 2013. The project will process flue gas from the plant equal in quantity to that of a 60 MW unit, a level that can prove the technology's viability on a larger scale, and then deliver that captured CO2 for use in enhanced oil recovery in nearby oil fields. This commercial-scale demonstration is designed to capture approximately 90 percent (or just under half a million tons) of CO2 in the flue gas annually.
NRG Energy has invested in a 680 net megawatt (MW) IGCC plant with carbon capture and sequestration in Tonawanda, NY. IGCC technology removes more than 90% of nitrogen oxide (NOX), 99% of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and 95% of mercury emissions, compared to conventional coal-fueled plants. Additionally, our IGCC plant will capture 65% of CO2 emissions, with a potential of up to 90% over time.
NRG Energy created and maintains the Oxbow Reforestation Project in Shreveport, La. The project features one of the largest single reforestation efforts on private land in the southeastern United States and is supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The site includes 60 acres of shallow water wetlands and nearly 2,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forest.
The Restore America's Estuaries Nation Conference was held in Galveston in 2010. NRG was the conference's climate sponsor, offsetting 1,500 metric tons of carbon for the weeklong event. Wetland plants from NRG Energy's EcoCenter were donated and planted by conference participants during the Restore Galveston Bay field session
Pacific Gas and Electric Company has submitted a proposal to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for a new and innovative environmental program that will allow interested customers to contribute toward a cleaner California. This voluntary program would be available to most of PG&E’s residential and business customers.
Through the Climate Protection Program, customers can choose to sign up and pay a small premium on their monthly utility bill which will fund independent environmental projects aimed at removing carbon dioxide from the air. To read more about this program, click here. (pdf)
Rio Tinto Aluminium (RTA) partnered with The Carbon Pool Pty Ltd. In the “Minding the Carbon Store (MTCS)” project to abate approximately 1 million tons of CO2 emissions through avoided deforestation. The project, verified and approved under the Australian government’s Greenhouse Gas Friendly initiative, provided payments to landowners to forego permits to clear native vegetation, avoiding the release of GHG emissions over a period of 120 years from land clearing of 12,000 hectares of native vegetation.
Rio Tinto’s Luzenac America subsidiary purchased green tags from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to offset 100 percent of the GHG emissions associated with energy used at its Yellowstone Talc mine near Cameron, Montana.
Rio Tinto invests in developing and commercialising carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. Rio Tinto is a founding member of the Global CCS Institute and supports other collaborative efforts to deploy CCS technology, such as the CO2CRC's Otway Basin geosequestration project in Australia
Royal Dutch/Shell is a member of the CO2 capture project CO2 Capture Research Project, an international effort by seven of the world’s leading energy companies.
Shell leads the CO2Sink project at Ketzin in Germany, which is the first onshore project in Europe to inject CO2 underground. From 2008 - 2010, the project will store up to 60,000 tonnes of CO2 in saltwater rock layers, showing how effectively CO2 is absorbed and its movement over time. Shell is leading this project, providing technical expertise and helping find the most cost-effective ways to store CO2 in saltwater formations. Governments will also use findings to help design effective safety regulations.
Project Pioneer was announced in April 2008, when TransAlta, along with partner and technology developer Alstom Canada, announced intent to build a large-scale, pre-commercial CCS facility in Alberta. The project is expected to be complete in 2013. Results of the pilot are sure to influence practices across our industry as well as others.
TransAlta is a participating member of the UtiliTree Carbon Company. UtiliTree is a consortium of 41 utilities organized by the Edison Electric Institute to invest in a portfolio of forestry projects that manage GHG emissions, particularly CO2. A $3.2 million investment in eight domestic and two international projects will capture over 3 million tons of CO2 over the life of these projects.
TransAlta, in concert with a coalition of governments and industry, will research commercially viable technology to eliminate CO2 from coal-burning power plants. The coalition plans to construct and operate a demonstration plant by 2007 to test the technology’s technical, environmental, and economic viability.
TransAlta is part of the Greenhouse Emissions Management Consortium, a non-profit Canadian corporation formed by ten Canadian Energy Companies that invests in emissions offsets. Among other offsets, the consortium has purchased 6 million metric tons of carbon emission reduction credits from Iowa farmers who use minimum-till and no-till farming practices, cropland retirement, buffer strips, afforestation, reforestation, improved timber management, power generation from biomass, and methane abatement from livestock waste to reduce emissions.
In 2008, Weyerhaeuser sequestered 8.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in our forests and products, meaning the company sequestered about five times more carbon dioxide than we directly emitted.
At the close of 2004, Weyerhaeuser owned, licensed, or leased 37.9 million acres of forests worldwide. The company uses intensive silvicultural practices on the highly productive forests it owns to achieve the natural biological potential. In other areas it uses less intensive practices to emulate natural forest structure. In both cases, these sustainably managed forests sequester large pools of CO2 inherent in the trees. Weyerhaeuser invests in afforestation ventures in South America to sustainably sequester additional tons of CO2 and uses recycled fibers in products to extend the time that CO2 removed from the atmosphere during the tree-growing stage is stored in products.
In 2004 Weyerhaeuser improved its process for inventorying GHG emissions and the carbon stored in its forests and products. The company’s operations sequestered approximately 26 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents and emitted approximately 7 million tons from the use of fossil fuels and other activities. This effectively sequestered 19 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent or 0.5 metric tons of carbon equivalents per ton of production, an improvement of approximately 18% over 2003.