US energy company trapping CO2 and methane

A forward-thinking energy company based in New Orleans has announced two projects designed to reduce its greenhouse gas production, through emissions reduction and sequestration.

Entergy, a company that produces power from a variety of sources, will be collecting methane emitted from abandoned coal mines, converting it into electricity or upgrading it to pipeline quality for use with natural gas. The project is expected to reduce methane emissions – which are 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas – by 400,000 metric tonnes by 2005. The second project involves the conversion of till agriculture to direct drill seeding from June this year, which will increase the amount of carbon being stored in the soil.

In May last year, Entergy became the first US utility company to publicly announce its commitment to stabilise its domestic greenhouse gas emissions, and to develop a long-term programme of achieving additional reductions. “Entergy believes there is already sufficient scientific evidence to warrant treating climate change as a risk deserving action now,” an Entergy spokesperson told edie.

As well as believing that the company has a moral obligation to future generations to manage climate change risks responsibly, the company’s customers are also located along the Gulf of Mexico, and its headquarters are in New Orleans – areas especially prone to the effects of climate change, the spokesperson said.

The agricultural sequestration scheme is a 10-year project in partnership with the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association, intended to have 8,700 acres (3,500 hectares) under direct seeding, and will involve paying farmers a small fee to convert. As well as off-setting carbon emissions, the project is intended to facilitate the change-over from traditional agricultural practices to the more sustainable method. “The project sponsors are optimistic that once this changeover has occurred, the economic and environmental benefits derived will discourage any return to the older methods,” said the spokesperson.

As part of the methane capture project, Entergy will be helping to fund the installation of an additional 600 KW of methane-fuelled power generation at the site of a sealed coal mine in Ohio. Methane reductions are expected to start later this year. “This project is part of Entergy’s environmental initiative to respond to the threat of global warming in a positive and responsible way,” said Dr Marty Smith, Climate Change Co-ordinator at Entergy.

There are also similar projects planned for the future, as Entergy attempts to develop as diverse a portfolio in external emissions offset projects as possible in order to gain experience with many different greenhouse gas reduction approaches. The company is also actively looking to expand its renewable portfolio, including the development of a solar energy project, and already has 70 MW of hydroelectric power and 80 MW of wind power capacity.

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