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BP-Rio Tinto JV Files Application for Hydrogen Power Station with CCS in Kern County, California

Hydrogen Energy International LLC, a joint venture of BP Alternative Energy and Rio Tinto (earlier post), is filing an AFC (Application for Certification) before the California Energy Commission for a proposed hydrogen fuel production facility and power plant with carbon capture and storage in Kern County, California. The project had originally been targeted for Carson, California (about 20 miles south of Los Angeles). (Earlier post.)

The filing initiates a comprehensive regulatory review process and, upon approval, grants permission for the construction of the nation’s first industrial-scale low-carbon power plant with carbon capture and sequestration.

The proposed facility will use Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology to manufacture hydrogen from petroleum coke (a by-product of the refining process) or blends of petroleum coke and coal, as needed. The hydrogen will be used to generate nearly 400 gross megawatts of base-load low-carbon electricity—enough to power 150,000 homes in the region. More than 2 million tons of carbon dioxide is expected to be captured and stored in deep underground geological formations annually, giving the facility minimal CO2.

While we had planned to site the project in Carson, we have concluded that the project will become a reality much faster by locating it in close proximity to Occidental’s nearby Elk Hills operations where the CO2 can be injected and stored.

—Jonathan Briggs, Regional Director of Hydrogen Energy in North America

Occidental Petroleum hopes to use the CO2 for enhanced oil recovery in the Elk Hills oil field.



It sounds complex but ultimately they are going to make money off selling the electricity & CO2 - so they must be figuring this will more than offset the investment in fixed assets & other costs over time. I guess petroluem coke isn't worth a whole lot.

Reality Czech

The Wabash River IGCC demonstration project was designed to burn Illinois #6 coal, but ran for some time on petcoke from Venezuela. Maybe it still is.

Wabash River only produced about 250 MW of power. This project is considerably larger.

P Schager

If they're going to make hydrogen to generate electricity, it's really too bad to use a turbine and steam generator and miss the opportunity to use a fuel cell like an SOFC or molten carbonate. These would be cutting-edge efficient; you could still have a bottoming cycle or a cogeneration operation.

Then again, perhaps they don't want to invest too much in what eats the hydrogen because they've also got their eye on the possibility of using it to make a lot more current-spec clean ULSD diesel. If the US gets smart enough to take a cue from Europe, we could see an explosion of diesel cars here, and BP knows a thing or two about that. Building a sexy eco-futuristic powerplant (for one that still uses fossil fuels) could be a quick way to get it approved. In any case, it is indeed a step forward.

Hopefully they will design it so it isn't too hard to convert to some kind of biomass before it gets old.

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