Lexington, Ky. (June 14, 2010)—Kentucky officials, energy companies, and researchers have a new resource to help make decisions on management of carbon dioxide emitted from facilities such as coal-fired electricity plants. The Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) at the University of Kentucky has completed a broad assessment of geologic factors affecting Kentucky’s potential for permanent storage (also called sequestration) of carbon dioxide (CO2). It also addresses the potential use of CO2 for increasing recovery of oil from Kentucky fields.
The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet contracted KGS for the study that resulted in the 253-page report entitled “Evaluation of Geologic CO2 Sequestration Potential and CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery in Kentucky.” Copies were provided to Cabinet officials in May, and the report is available at the KGS website. Marty Parris, Steve Greb, and Brandon Nuttall of the KGS Energy & Minerals Section were principal investigators, but the study and report received important contributions from other KGS staff.
Worldwide concern has increased about the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, and the report notes that Kentucky’s coal-fired power plants discharged 102.8 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2005. Ninety-five percent of the state’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, so this issue is particularly important to the Commonwealth.
According to the report, previous studies done under the auspices of the Department of Energy estimate that Kentucky can store up to 11.6 billion tons of CO2 in the pore space of underground geologic formations. “This Department of Energy estimate is speculative, however,” says Parris, “and the actual amount of pore space that can be occupied by CO2 needs further scientific confirmation. In addition, the viability of carbon storage will be affected by engineering considerations, economics, and regulatory policies.” The report examines five topics:
“Addressing the technological, economic, legal, and policy issues of carbon dioxide capture and storage is of extreme importance for Kentucky and the nation as a whole,” said Len Peters, secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet. “This document is a key piece in the equation because it gives us significantly more information on various aspects of geologic storage of CO2, as well as enhanced oil recovery, and the potential viability of both in the Commonwealth. We will be using the information in this document to help us achieve the goals of managing carbon dioxide as outlined in Governor Beshear’s comprehensive energy plan to ensure that we can continue to use our abundant coal resources in a carbon-constrained world.”
The report provides basic information to help the state, industry, and others make decisions concerning potential for geologic carbon storage in Kentucky in the future. It concludes that more research through demonstrations and pilot projects is needed to understand the state’s carbon storage potential and to reduce the risks when implementing commercial-size carbon storage projects.
The publication is being provided free of cost through the KGS website at this web address: http://kgs.uky.edu/kgsweb/olops/pub/kgs/Energy/RI21_12/RI21_12.htm or by clicking on the “Recent Publications” link at the KGS website, www.uky.edu/kgs and looking for publication #17414.