Summit Power and Linde to develop natural gas power plants with carbon capture

February 9, 2013

– Summit Power Group, a Seattle-based developer of low-carbon power projects, and the technology company The Linde Group have teamed up to develop commercial-scale natural gas-fired power plants that will capture up to ninety percent of the CO2 that would otherwise have been emitted.

The new power plants will combine well-established and commercially proven natural gas-fired power plant technology with proven carbon capture technology.

A typical gas-fired power plant with carbon capture developed by Summit and Linde will produce approximately 250 megawatts (MW) of net electric power, enough to provide electricity for 250,000 homes, and will capture up to 750,000 tons of CO2 annually.

“In the U.S. and abroad, the electric power sector is making a ‘dash for gas,’” said Donald Paul Hodel, Summit’s Chairman Emeritus and former U.S. Secretary of Energy. “Technology is ready to capture the CO2 that gas-fired power plants produce, and Summit, in partnership with Linde, is ready to develop those plants, just as Summit has developed thousands of megawatts of conventional gas-fired power plants in the past.”

Both Summit and Linde are already active in developing power projects with CO2 capture where the CO2 can be either geologically sequestered in depleted gas fields and deep saline formations, or injected into depleting oilfields. Summit is currently developing two major coal gasification projects that will capture 90% of the CO2 they produce, namely the Texas Clean Energy Project (TCEP) in the United States and the Captain Clean Energy Project (CCEP) in the United Kingdom. Linde is a major technology provider, engineering and construction contractor, and long-term operations and maintenance provider to TCEP. Based on their extensive cooperation, Linde and Summit are now expanding their focus to this new and promising field of natural gas based CO2 capture.

“Merely increasing reliance on natural gas is not a sufficient carbon-reduction strategy for the hydrocarbon sector of the global power industry,” said Professor Dr. Aldo Belloni, member of the Executive Board of Linde AG. “It is still necessary, valuable, and eminently feasible to capture and geologically sequester the carbon dioxide that natural gas-fired plants would otherwise emit, just as it is with coal-based plants. Linde has the capability to achieve this and is ready to deploy it at commercial scale.”

Outside the U.S., current carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) policies tend to favor depleted gas fields and deep saline formations as geological “sinks” for the captured CO2. However, in many U.S. oilfield locations the volume of CO2 captured from a typical natural gas-fired power plant can also be used to produce an additional 1.5 to 2.5 million barrels of oil per year. Injection of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) hence reduces CO2 emissions to the atmosphere as well as increases available oil reserves. Any CO2 that comes to the surface with the produced oil is re-compressed and re-injected, ultimately remaining trapped underground. The resulting oil does not add to total world oil consumption or demand, but instead replaces the equivalent volume of oil produced by other means.

Summit and Linde have identified several suitable U.S. locations for this new type of power plant. Key locations are those where the ultra-low carbon electric power can be sold to utilities and large consumers, and suitable geological sequestration sites are available for the injection of CO2 underground. Revenue earned from the productive use of captured CO2, for example in oilfields, will reduce and in some cases may eliminate any environmental cost premium that CO2 capture imposes on power plants.

“Competitively priced electric power is, in the end, a necessity,” said Mr. Hodel. “But so is clean and environmentally acceptable electric power. Working with Linde, we believe we can and will be able to achieve both, not just from coal gasification projects but also from gas-fired power plants.”

The two companies plan to announce their first such project in the coming months.