U.S. Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Joe Manchin of West Virginia were in Wilsonville Friday for a firsthand look at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) primary carbon capture research facility. While touring the National Carbon Capture Center, they praised the efforts of its Alabama-based team to advance emerging technologies to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil-based power plants.
“The National Carbon Capture Center is focused on finding breakthroughs in next-generation carbon capture technologies that will reduce overall global carbon emissions. It’s a great example of how the Alabama business community is helping to move the green economy forward,” Jones said.
Located in Wilsonville, next to Alabama Power’s Plant E.C. Gaston, the National Carbon Capture Center – which is managed and operated by Alabama Power parent company Southern Company – is nationally and internationally recognized for its work to accelerate the development of next-generation carbon capture technologies.
“Experts have made it clear fossil fuels are projected to be part of our energy portfolio through 2040, and focusing on carbon capture technologies is one of the most critical technologies we can invest in,” said Manchin, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“Touring the National Carbon Capture Center with Senator Jones was an exciting opportunity to see these important technologies up close,” Manchin said. “I’m working to ensure the Department of Energy can continue to advance these technologies to commercialization because they benefit the environment while also allowing us to maintain affordable and reliable electricity in the U.S. and lead globally.”
The National Carbon Capture Center tests innovative solvents, sorbents, membranes and other processes designed to remove CO2 from a power plant’s flue gas stream. Developers from seven countries have tested their technologies at the facility. And the center is constructing new infrastructure to expand carbon capture technology development for natural gas power plants, with testing to begin next year.
A key goal for the DOE is to significantly reduce the cost of carbon capture to make it widely deployable across the nation’s energy portfolio, as well as in industrial settings. The National Carbon Capture Center has already reduced the projected cost of carbon capture from fossil power generation by one-third, with further cost reductions expected as research continues.
“Having Senators Jones and Manchin take an interest in our research is extremely meaningful to our team,” said National Carbon Capture Center Director John Northington. “While our technology leadership continues to be sought after on a global stage, their confidence and support further signifies the importance of our mission in providing clean, safe, reliable, affordable energy for a low-carbon future.”
In addition to testing carbon capture for natural gas power plants, the center is also expanding its work into CO2 utilization – when carbon emissions are captured and used to manufacture value-added products like cement. A Carbon XPRIZE contestant will test a utilization technology there next year.