Carbon Capture and Storage
AEP was a first mover on validating carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at our Mountaineer Plant in West Virginia. Although the validation-scale project was successful technologically, our investment was significant and our state regulators would not allow us to recover the investment associated with that project. Without cost recovery, AEP was left without a viable path to demonstrate the technology at a commercial scale.
The decision to not move forward with a commercial-scale project also derailed efforts to begin to address many of the more challenging issues associated with developing this technology, including significant technical, financial, legal and practical challenges. AEP continues to be a strong advocate for developing and advancing CCS technologies, and we believe that technological solutions are critical to reducing emissions from, and improving the performance and reliability of, electric generation processes. To date, CCS has yet to be adequately demonstrated at a commercial scale on any coal-based generating unit, although there are CCS projects under active development in the United States.
We need to be smart about our investments to develop these new technologies. To maximize the limited resources to develop carbon reduction technologies, we believe the industry should focus on those with the greatest promise, so that available dollars can fund significant advances in fewer technologies, rather than small advances in a large number of technologies. We see a brighter future for CO2 capture breakthrough processes that may redefine how the industry produces electricity with coal.
AEP is actively involved with the Coal Utilization Research Council (CURC), based in Washington, D.C. CURC’s mission is to advocate for technology development that furthers the advancement and use of coal, one of our most valuable domestic resources and a key component of a balanced energy portfolio.
Despite the lack of commercial CCS technology, AEP’s carbon emissions will be significantly reduced as we retire a generation of older coal-fueled power plants in the coming years.