Alstom captures CO2 from Wisconsin coal plant

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than 90 percent of carbon dioxide has been captured from a small emissions slipstream at a Wisconsin coal-burning power plant in a pilot project, testers said on Thursday.

We Energies, a subsidiary of Wisconsin Energy Corp, and French multinational Alstom SA said they and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) started testing Alstom’s chilled ammonia process on a 1.7-megawatt slipstream at We Energies’ 1,208 MW Pleasant Prairie plant in early 2008. The test will end later this year.

“One of the biggest challenges facing our industry is the development of cost effective technology that will allow us to capture carbon from the operation of power plants around the world,” We Energies CEO Gale Klappa said in a release.

The Pleasant Prairie project was funded in part through an EPRI collaborative of 37 energy companies from seven countries. The EPRI funding collaborative was about $8 million, a spokesman for We Energies said in an email.

Alstom paid the rest of the pilot project costs but would not say how much they have spent for proprietary reasons, a spokesman Alstom said in an email.

“This project has been a success. It proved what we needed to know to stay on schedule to commercialize carbon capture technology for new and existing power plants by 2015, a necessary step to meet ambitious climate change targets being proposed by policy makers in the U.S. and around the world,” Alstom U.S. President Pierre Gauthier said in the release.

A scaled-up 20 MW capture system was installed at American Electric Power Co Inc’s 1,300 MW Mountaineer coal fired plant in West Virginia.

The companies expect the chilled ammonia process at Mountaineer to remove about 90 percent of CO2 emissions from the flue gas stream, capturing up to 100,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. The project started injecting the CO2 into two saline reservoirs about 8,000 feet below the plant last week.

The Alstom spokesman could not discuss what it spent on the Mountaineer project. AEP has been reported as having invested more than $70 million in the Mountaineer project.

Alstom, of Levallois-Perret, France, has interests in the power generation and transport markets.

We Energies, the primary unit of Wisconsin Energy, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, serves more than 1.1 million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and more than 1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino