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Consol Energy Taps Methane For Carbon Credits

Consol Energy will become the second coal miner to develop a methane capture and abatement system in the U.S., according to a company press release and news reports.

A report in the Wall Street Journal quoted Consol’s vice president of research and development Steve Winburg as saying the driving force behind the project was its potential to allow Consol to generate carbon credits it can sell. The carbon offset credits generated from the VAM oxidation project at the McElroy Mine will be registered with the Climate Action Reserve, a certification program that approved a protocol for coal mine methane projects in 2009.

The project will be located at the company’s McElroy Mine in West Virgina and is being developed jointly alongside the Verdeo Group, according the press release. The Journal reported that the price tag for the project will come to $5 million.

The project utilizes regenerative thermal oxidation (RTO) technology to destroy methane that vents from coal mine shafts, known as ventilation air methane (VAM). Methane, which is 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, is found in coal mines, and must be vented above ground before it can build up to dangerous levels. The RTO technology oxidizes methane into carbon dioxide and water vapor. According to a WVNS report, the methane destroyed by the project will account for 1 percent of all the VAM in the U.S.

According to the Journal, Walter Energy, another coal producer, is using a similar technology at a mine in Alabama, and is also selling its carbon credits through the Climate Action Reserve. The strategy follows other coal mines that have been able to sell carbon credits by either abating their use or, as one mine in Poland has done, repurpose it as heating fuel. The University of New Hampshire was also able to sell carbon credits after using methane from a landfill to fuel a cogeneration project.

Consol also recently installed a water filtration system at its Oakwood, VA mine, that will reduce freshwater demand.

The project is expected to become operational in the second quarter of 2011, according to the company.

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2 thoughts on “Consol Energy Taps Methane For Carbon Credits

  1. Why don’t they vent the methane into fuel cells and create electricity at the same time…creating more credits?

  2. Darn good question Bill. Also, is there a factory nearby that they could pipe the methane to for use in a boiler? The City of Baltimore is piping methane from a landfill to a Coast Guard facility that is about a mile away.

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