Department of Energy Week in Review: Release of New Scientific Integrity Policy and Inaugural State of the Labs Report, PetraNova Becomes First Power-Related CCS Project in U.S. to Begin Commercial Operation, and Signing of U.S. and Mexico Bilateral Electric Reliability Principles

It has been a busy week for DOE.  Yesterday, January 11, 2017, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced the release of DOE’s Scientific Integrity Policy and the corresponding implementation order.  Stating that “[t]he cornerstone of the scientific integrity policy at DOE is that all scientists, engineers, or others supported by DOE are free and encouraged to share their scientific findings and views,” the policy address the discussion and dissemination of both scientific work and research, and personal opinions on scientific and technical related policies.  The policy was developed in response to the President’s March 9, 2009, Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on Scientific Integrity.  It updates and expands the 2012 Secretarial Policy Statement on Scientific Integrity issued by then-Secretary Chu to include under covered personnel, all “federal staff, including the heads of departmental elements and heads of field elements, scientists and engineers at DOE laboratories and field sites, other contractors who support the R&D mission, and financial assistance recipients.”

Yesterday Secretary Moniz also announced the release of the first Annual Report on the State of the DOE National Laboratories.  The report—which is organized into six themes:  Recognizing Value, Rebuilding Trust, Maintaining Alignment and Quality, Maximizing Impact, Managing Effectiveness and Efficiency, and Ensuring Lasting Change—provides a history of the 17 National Labs and summarizes key activities and accomplishments of each lab.

On Monday, January 9, 2017, Petra Nova, a 240 MW post-combustion carbon capture facility in Fort Bend County, Texas, became the first electric power related CCS plant to begin commercial operations in the United States.  A joint project of NRG Energy, Inc. and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp., Petra Nova is located on the site of WA Parish, an existing coal-fired power plant.  According to NRG’s news release, the plant is the world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture system and is designed to capture more than 90% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) from a 240 MW slipstream of flue gas, equivalent to more than 5,000 tons of CO2 per day.  The captured CO2 will be used to enhance oil production at an oilfield jointly owned by NRG, JX Nippon, and Hilcorp Energy Company.  The Petra Nova project received project management support from DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), and $190 million in cost-sharing grants as part of DOE’s Clean Coal Power Initiative Program (CCPI).

And last Saturday, January 7, 2017, Secretary Moniz, FERC Chairman Norman Bay, Mexico’s Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) Chairman Guillermo Ignacio García Alcocer, and National Center for Energy Control (CENACE) Director Eduardo Meraz Ateca collectively signed “Principles to Promote the Reliability and Security of the Interconnected Power Systems of the United States of America and the United Mexican States,” a set of 11 non-binding bilateral principles to promote electric reliability of interconnected American and Mexican electricity grids (the Spanish version is available here).  The principles relate to the objectives and challenges for North American energy integration which are described in the second installment of DOE’s Quadrennial Energy Review (QER 1.2).

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