Gas Wells Now Need Air Quality Plan Approval
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced last week that operators of unconventional gas wells will no longer be unconditionally exempt from seeking an air quality plan approval for well sites. Plan approval authorizes the construction and temporary operation of air emissions sources.
Revised technical guidance, released by DEP, explains that the agency may grant such operators a permitting exemption, provided that they implement controls and practices more stringent than federal rules.
DEP has submitted a formal notice announcing the change for publication in this week's edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
"Gov. Corbett's continued leadership on energy and environmental issues has put Pennsylvania in a unique position - air quality has improved over the past few years at the same time the state's energy portfolio continues to expand the development and use of natural gas," DEP Acting Secretary Chris Abruzzo said.
"We fully expect both of those trends to continue, and this strategy builds on existing federal requirements by continuing to set the high, but fair, bar we have come to expect," Abruzzo added.
In April 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced, for the first time, national air quality rules for oil and gas sites.
Earlier this year, Pennsylvania's DEP announced it was proposing to amend technical guidance detailing which emissions sources would not be required to obtain air quality plan approvals from the state. Oil and gas well sites in Pennsylvania had been granted blanket exemptions from obtaining approvals since 1996.
The final revised guidance affords each operator the choice between seeking an air quality plan approval from DEP, or demonstrating and implementing controls and practices more stringent than the federal rules.
The DEP guidance includes practices such as a leak detection and repair program for the entire well pad and facility, rather than just the storage vessels as required by federal rules. Any leaks must be repaired within 15 days unless the operator shuts the site down or is in the process of acquiring replacement parts.
Emissions of volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants must also be controlled beyond levels required by the federal rules. DEP's guidance also requires that emissions of nitrogen oxides be less than 100 pounds per hour, half a ton per day and 6.6 tons per year; the federal rules do not address or limit such emissions.
Finally, while both the federal rules and the state's guidance allow for flaring (with the EPA requiring green completions at all wells by Jan. 1, 2015), open flaring is only allowed by the state on a short-term or emergency basis. Flaring used as emission control on storage vessels must be enclosed, resulting in reductions of volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants. Such enclosed flares have been demonstrated to achieve up to 99.9 percent elimination of such pollutants.
The exemption criteria build on an existing and continually improving regulatory environment to ensure natural gas drilling happens responsibly. Earlier this year, DEP announced a revised general permit for compressor stations and gas processing facilities that included significantly lower allowable emission limits.
DEP has also conducted three short-term ambient air quality sampling studies in various drilling regions of the state, detecting no levels of any pollutant that would violate federal ambient air quality standards. A one-year, long-term study is underway in Washington County to further gather data regarding long-term exposure.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.