NewEnergyNews: NRG WILL TRY WORLD’S BIGGEST “CLEAN” COAL EXPERIMENT IN TEXAS

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  • Thursday, November 15, 2007

    NRG WILL TRY WORLD’S BIGGEST “CLEAN” COAL EXPERIMENT IN TEXAS

    Research is of the utmost importance, always. But note well: This project will only capture 5% – FIVE PER CENT! – of the plant’s emissions.

    Then there is the question of what to do with what is captured. The article says NRG will use it for enhanced oil recovery (“EOR,” a tried and true process which eventually brings the CO2 back up to be emitted) or storage (“sequestration,” an unproven but theoretically safe concept).

    Many consider the phrase "clean coal" an oxymoron. Remember: Even if the emissions could be effectively captured and sequestered, the mining process is an ecological disaster and the transport process is highly emissions-heavy.

    NRG’s single most important motivation for undertaking this project: To prepare for the coming imposition of a price on emissions, either from a tax or a cap-and-trade system. NRG expects to fund a big portion of the project through government grants and recoup much of its own costs by selling credits and/or offsets.


    Power plant to capture carbon dioxide
    Tom Fowler, November 2, 2007 (Houston Chronicle)
    and
    NRG announces Texas carbon-capture project
    Elizabeth Souder, November 2, 2007 (Dallas Morning News)

    WHO
    NRG Energy Inc.( David Crane, CEO), Powerspan Corp.

    Schematic of the Powerspan capture process. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    NRG will work with Powerspan to develop and retrofit carbon dioxide-capture technology into its W.A. Parish power plant.

    WHEN
    The capture technology will be operational by 2012.

    WHERE
    The Parrish power plant is near Sugar Land, Texas, in the Houston area. NRG Energy is based in New Jersey. Powerspan is based in New Hampshire.

    WHY
    - The $150 to $200 million project will largely be paid for by government grants. It will cost NRG $30 to $40 million.
    - NRG Energy is owner/operator of the Sugar land plant. Powerspan will install the system.
    - The system will use an ammonia-based solution to absorb the CO2 emissions in the plant exhaust and hold them in a transport- and storage-ready form.
    - The trial will aim to capture 1 million tons/year of the plant’s 20 million tons/year of emissions.
    - CO2 capture of this type has been done in plants of between 1 and 5 megawatts. The Parrish plant is 125 megawatts, making this the largest such trial in the world.
    - NRG also has plans to build a new coal plant and a new nuclear plant in Texas.

    After-capture options. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Crane, NRG: "As our country's leaders move to consider climate change legislation, they should be confident that the power sector is already acting in anticipation of government action in order to support the rapid transition to a low-carbon economy.."

    - Tom "Smitty" Smith, head, Texas office of Public Citizen: "We question why, if they are trying to clean up CO2 at one old plant, are they hell-bent on building another coal plant without CO2 controls?"

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