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BP and GE Together to Develop Hydrogen Power Plants and Technologies

Elements of BP’s Carson hydrogen power plant. Click to enlarge.

BP and GE today announced their intention jointly to develop and deploy hydrogen power projects that dramatically reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from electricity generation.

The basic approach of the hydrogen power plant is to gasify a fossil-fuel feedstock, then use the resulting hydrogen-rich syngas as the fuel gas to generate electric power from turbines in a power plant. The considerable CO2 resulting from the process is captured, transported and sequestered in deep geological formations such as oil and gas fields—where it can enhance recovery.

BP and GE estimate that by combining hydrogen power generation with carbon capture and storage in one integrated project, 90% of the carbon dioxide in the fuel is captured so that it does not enter the atmosphere, thereby taking a substantial step towards tackling the climate change issue. Power generation accounts for some 40% of man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

Accordingly, BP and GE will collaborate on power, carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

Tomorrow’s energy mix will include hydrogen—and GE and BP are taking the lead in ensuring progress begins today. This initiative will demonstrate that our companies’ leading-edge technologies can make hydrogen production efficient, reliable, and economical for large-scale, commercial power production. Our financial strength will ensure it happens now globally, changing the way we envision our energy future.

—David Calhoun, Vice Chairman of GE and president and CEO of GE Infrastructure

BP has already announced plans for two such hydrogen power projects with carbon capture and sequestration in Scotland and California, both of which will use GE technology. (Earlier post.)

Subject to appropriate regulatory and fiscal regimes being in place, and necessary due diligence, the companies have an ambition to progress 10 to 15 further projects over the next decade, including the plants in Scotland and California.

Subject to further exploration, the companies anticipate that the most appropriate structure may be through creation of a joint venture to invest in hydrogen power projects and a joint development agreement for development of related technology. As a first step, BP and GE would jointly participate in the two hydrogen power projects with carbon capture and sequestration BP has announced—Peterhead in Scotland and Carson in Southern California—where Scottish and Southern Energy and Edison Mission Energy are partners respectively.

The Carson plant will generate 500 megawatts (MW) of power from petroleum coke and capture about 4 million tonnes of CO2 per year. The CO2 will be transported and stored in deep underground oil reservoirs where it will enhance existing oil production.

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.

The combination of coal gasification and carbon capture and sequestration is crucial for clean coal development and presents great opportunities for countries with substantial reserves of coal such as the USA, China and India.

—Lewis Gillies, BP’s Director of Hydrogen Power




Brilliant! They're covering for two possible future fuels. Hydrogen (if and when), electricity for PHEVs and EVs, and of course it'll squeeze some more oil out of the ground.


OK if the enhanced oil recovery is used for materials, eg carbon fibers, recyclable plastics. Not good if the oil/gas is burned (Houston, we have a CO2 problem...)


I agree, oil for transportation is a waste of resources.


I wonder if anyone has ever looked into the efficiency of home hydrogen storage. You have a PV system with excess capacity during the day and you use battery stored energy for night use. Barring safety concerns, a hydrogen generation unit during the day stores hydrogen for use via a fuel cell for night use. It would make more sense for an entire neighborhood to use such an energy source with all the houses having solar panels on the roof and feeding their excess energy into the neighborhood hydrogen generation unit during the day and drawing what energy they need during the night from the neighborhood hydrogen fuel cell generator.

allen Z

You guys are forgetting petroleum coke is used in electric steel furnaces. Perhaps lower grade sludge/bitumen could be used instead.


How can they call this a "hydrogen power plant"? They are powering it with fossil fuels. Just because they gasify them into syngas and capture the CO2 doesn't rate this as a hydrogen power plant, not in my book anyways.

If you let people get away with the small lies you're giving them permission to tell you the big lies.


I heard on the radio (from some politician I can not remember) that Clean Energy should be the primary focus of this country. I am not a tree hugger by any means but I tend to agree, for without it we have nothing.

It seems to me that there is a lot of money to be made and jobs to be created with ventures such as that described in this post.



I think most PV users take advantage of netmetering laws to sell power back to the grid.
This helps pay for the system and reduces peak demand production using fossil fuels.


Though there has been much reform towards those ends in the US; many places still do not allow you to sell back excess energy.

tom deplume

Storing energy in hydrogen is considerably less efficient than using batteries.
Using CO2 for EOR is definitely not carbon sequestration. The best way to sequestor fossil carbon is to not take it out of the ground in the first place.



I'm with you. Coal left in the ground is the gold standard for carbon sequestration.


Using CO2 for EOR is carbon sequestration as long as the oil is used for plastics. Even if it isn't you've reduced the CO2 by half (not perfect but its a start). As much as I'd like to see a utopian world where the coal stays in the ground ... we're going to need it as a bridge. We just have to insure that it is used cleanly (carbon tax).



As has been pointed out "electricity to hydrogen and back to electricity" conversion efficiencies are not good. Batteries are better and for the application you discribe 'flow batteries' are best. Flow batteries store energy in tanks of liquid so they are store alot of energy if you make the tanks bigger.
More details here-

Tim Burrows

A couple of remarks in relation to some earlier comments:
- Hydrogen storage is extremely challenging. It leaks through most metals (since it is composed of such small atoms), occupies a large volume as a gas relative to the same energy value of methane - or must be compressed to extremely high pressures in order to be liquified, and is very flammable (think Hindenburg). It is difficult enough to store it in an industrial setting, let alone at home. All of these issues may be solved one day, but it is likely some time away. The phrase "barring safety concerns" should not be used lightly!
- It's true that Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) results in a fossil fuel being produced, but you should consider that the fuel that is recovered can be gasified into synfuel (H2 and eventually CO2) and the CO2 separated and permanently sequestered. The H2 can then be combusted to generate electricity with very little CO2 emissions (the carbon capture process is not perfect yet). There is no reason why the carbon in oil that is recovered needs to be released to atmosphere.
- CO2 for EOR can be classed as sequestration, as long as the carbon in the extracted oil is separated and reinjected underground.
- The plant is indeed a "hydrogen power plant". This is not a lie of any size in my book. It is true that fossil fuel is the feedstock. It is gasified into syngas. Once the CO2 is separated, you are left with almost pure hydrogen. The plant runs on hydrogen as a fuel, it just happens that the process plant that produces the hydrogen is located very close to the power plant that combusts the hydrogen. There will always need to be a process plant to produce the hydrogen that is combusted, since hydrogen does not occur naturally in our environment, at least not in commercial quantities.

Henry Gibson

Now is the time for building hydrogen distribution pipelines in cities. Plastic pipes with an aluminum barrier can be made to withstand the pressure and leakage of hydrogen. Three times the volume of hydrogen is required to produce the same heat as natural gas, but hydrogen flows easier than methane.

We should not make hydrogen for its immediate use in a nearby power plant, but it should be piped to locations that can use it in combined heat and power units. These units can also provide cooling with the heat. Smaller turbines and engines are less efficient but the total higher fuel efficiency compensates, and there is greater reliability.

Coal to hydrogen plants could coke the coal first to extract fertilizers and coal tar and solvents. The tar can be delivered directly to oil refineries. Coal-oil did once fuel lanterns. Methanol should also be made at such plants. Lawnmowers and other yard engines should be required to burn methanol for lower pollution.

Much bio-mass can be used in these factories if first converted to charcoal. Researchers have invented a high speed process for making charcoal in Hawaii.

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