GE and BP have formed a global alliance to jointly develop and deploy technology for at least five hydrogen power plants. The announcement builds from the preliminary agreement reached by GE and BP in 2006. (Earlier post.)
These projects first gasify a fossil fuel to convert it into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen-rich syngas is used as the fuel gas to generate electric power from turbines in a power plant. The carbon dioxide is captured, transported and stored in deep geological formations such as oil and gas fields. By combining hydrogen power generation with carbon capture and storage in one integrated project, 90% of the carbon dioxide in the original fuel is captured.
Initially, the companies expect to work together to apply GE’s proprietary gasification and turbine technology to the development of five hydrogen power plants that would use petroleum coke or bituminous coal as feedstock.
Each commercial-scale hydrogen power plant is expected to generate about 500 MW of electricity—enough to power approximately 325,000 US homes. One of these 500 megawatt power plants, fed by coal with 90% carbon capture and geological storage, would be expected to capture around four million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
As a first step, BP and GE expect the petroleum coke-fueled project being planned at Carson in California, where Edison Mission Energy is Hydrogen Energy’s partner, to use GE technology. (Earlier post.) In addition, GE Energy Financial Services will have the opportunity to invest equity in projects offered by BP.
BP recently announced its intention to form, subject to regulatory approval, Hydrogen Energy, a new company to be jointly-owned with Rio Tinto, to identify, build and operate hydrogen power plants with carbon capture and storage. (Earlier post.) On completion of the company’s formation, today’s agreement would be expected to transfer to Hydrogen Energy.
GE and BP—through Hydrogen Energy—will apply their technologies, project experience and assets to optimize the integrated design of hydrogen power projects. The collaborative effort will draw upon the companies’ technologies and experience in areas such as coal gasification, reforming technology, gas turbines and carbon capture and storage.
In some cases, injection of captured carbon dioxide into oil reservoirs for storage also may result in the production of otherwise unrecoverable oil. For these enhanced oil recovery applications, the carbon dioxide has significant value, which helps make carbon capture and storage economically viable. For hydrogen power projects to be able to compete effectively in the electricity market, they would require appropriate policy support and a regulatory environment that recognizes and encourages the low-carbon benefits they can deliver, according to the two companies.