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DOE advances HECA polygeneration plant with CCS through NEPA process

The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) are working together to advance a coal-based polygeneration plant with carbon capture and storage (CCS) simultaneously through the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review and a complementary California Energy Quality Act process.

Part of DOE’s “Clean Coal Power Initiative” (CCPI), the new polygeneration plant will incorporate CCS as well as utilize CO2 for enhanced oil recovery. Hydrogen Energy California (HECA), which is owned by SCS Energy LLC, is developing and designing the new plant, the polygeneration process of which will demonstrate the co-production of fertilizer and hydrogen-based electric power.

The polygeneration plant includes an advanced integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant, which will convert coal fuel into hydrogen to generate enough power to support 160,000 homes, and a chemical plant that will produce nitrogen-based fertilizers. The plant will also capture more than 90% of the CO2, which means that the fertilizer and power produced by the project will have a smaller carbon footprint than those produced by conventional facilities, including those using natural gas.

Approximately 2.6 million tons per year of CO2 will be transported via pipeline to Occidental Petroleum’s Elk Hills Oil Field, located less than 4 miles away. With oil fields as the CO2 injection site, HECA will enable oil production to be increased, while storing CO2.

The plant will use non-potable water for its power production needs. The plant will also use petroleum coke that is currently being burned overseas without CO2 capture.

CCPI is a cost-shared collaboration between the federal government and private industry to increase investment in low-emission coal technology by demonstrating advanced coal-based power generation technologies prior to commercial deployment. The estimated capital cost for the project is approximately $4 billion. The DOE cost-share is limited to $408 million, or approximately 10% of the total project costs.

The project consists of three phases: Project Definition (Phase I), Design and Construction (Phase II), and Demonstration (Phase III). Plant operation and sequestration of CO2 in the Elk Hills Oil Field will commence in 2017. The project is being administered by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and National Energy Technology Laboratory.

As part of the NEPA process, DOE and CEC will hold a public meeting on 12 July 2012 in Tupman, Calif. This will be an opportunity for the public to offer their comments and view the project site in Elk Hills, Kern County, Calif. DOE is coordinating its NEPA review with the environmental review conducted by CEC as lead agency under the California Energy Quality Act for deciding whether to certify the project.


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