Positive Environment News

Edison, BP Plan $1 Billion California Hydrogen Power Plant

Date: 13-Feb-06
Country: USA

The plant, near the BP refinery in Carson 20 miles (32 km) south of Los Angeles, would come online by 2011 and generate 500 megawatts of electricity, about enough to power 325,000 homes.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the plant would be the first in America to use a new process that uses a chemical process to produce clean-burning hydrogen from petroleum coke, a residue from refining crude oil.

The hydrogen is burned to fuel the power plant. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide produced in the process of extracting hydrogen from coke is caught and stored.

Rather than being released into the air, about 90 percent of the gas would be trapped and injected into a natural reservoir thousands of feet underground, where it would stimulate additional oil production, BP said.

"We believe there's a way to come up with technical solutions for combating greenhouse gases in a commercially feasible manner," Edison Mission Group Chairman Ted Craver said at a press conference. "That's what we're trying to prove."

BP plans to spend $8 billion over the next 10 years developing low and zero carbon energy plants, including facilities utilizing solar and wind energy, said Steve Westwell, president and chief executive of BP Alternative Energy.

"There's still a lot of technology learning to come so that we can dramatically improve costs when we've built five to 15 of these plants," he said. "Over time, the costs of the electricity will come down."

The Carson plant will require governmental financial incentives to be economically viable, and a final investment decision on the project is expected by 2008. The project will partly depend on receiving incentives for advanced technologies as outlined by last year's Energy Policy Act, the companies said.

They have started talks with state and federal regulators and are looking at sales options for the electricity generated by the plant.

© Thomson Reuters 2006 All rights reserved

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