Verdeo Group Inc., a developer of mine methane emission reduction projects in North America, has listed what will be the largest coal mine methane abatement project undertaken in the US with the Climate Action Reserve. Verdeo is financing the project and leading development efforts in partnership with Consol Energy Inc., the largest operator of underground coal mines in the US.
The project will abate ventilation air methane (VAM) exhausted from a ventilation shaft at the McElroy mine in West Virginia, one of the largest underground coal mines in the US. The project will permanently reduce about 380,000 t of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e)/year when it becomes operational in the latter half of this year.
To ensure a safe mining environment, underground mines employ ventilation systems to evacuate methane that is liberated from coal seams during the mining process. In the absence of both requirements to destroy this methane and viable opportunities for beneficial use, it is vented to atmosphere.
However, a market for carbon offsets that is enabled by certification programmes (such as the Climate Action Reserve’s) provides an incentive for the voluntary abatement of methane. By making it possible for mines and project developers to generate carbon offset credits from the destruction of these greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, investors will channel private capital to finance the deployment of new methane abatement technologies.
The Climate Action Reserve’s Coal Mine Methane Project protocol provides guidance to account for, report and verify GHG reductions from underground mines. It was developed through a process that included leaders from the coal industry, technology experts, and environmental groups. Since the protocol was approved in late 2009, several companies have begun designing and implementing projects at underground mines across the U.S.
The project will utilize regenerative thermal oxidation (RTO) technology to destroy VAM emissions. Verdeo has developed a strategic partnership with the leading global manufacturer of RTO technologies, Dürr USA, which will supply the equipment for the project.
In addition to guiding the development of VAM abatement projects, the Reserve’s Coal Mine Methane Project protocol can be used for projects that abate or productively use methane emitted from degasification systems at underground mines. In 2008, the US Environmental Protection Agency estimated that underground mines were responsible for emitting 45 million tCO2e. GHG emission reductions from sources such as underground coal mines are valuable because they can be used to help reduce the cost of compliance of cap-and-trade programmes.
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