SCS Energy works on permitting issues for California coal project

The California Energy Commission sent a March 16 letter to SCS Energy California LLC that said the company will need a water permit related to its Hydrogen Energy California LLC coal gasification project.

The letter noted that in September 2011, SCS Energy California acquired 100% ownership of Hydrogen Energy California from BP Alternative Energy North America Inc. and Rio Tinto Hydrogen Energy LLC. After acquiring the project, SCS Energy California told the California Energy Commission that several changes would be made to the project proposal, including the addition of a 4-mile long rail spur, a urea facility, and a change in the ratio of coal and petroleum coke that would be used as feedstock.

“You have indicated that you would provide additional detail on these changes and responses to outstanding issues previously identified by staff by April 2012 and propose a project schedule that results in a commission decision by March 2013,” said the letter.

As proposed, HECA would capture carbon from the raw syngas produced by its integrated gasification combined cycle at steady-state operation, and sell it to Occidental Petroleum to be transported to the Elk Hills Oil Field via pipeline for CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and sequestration.

The state Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) is responsible for issuing Class II Permits in California under the Safe Drinking Water Act, a federal statute requiring review of any activity involving the injection of materials underground that has the potential to negatively impact groundwater resources. The CO2 EOR proposal will require Class II permits for every proposed injection well.

“Because the viability of HECA is dependent upon the viability of Occidental Petroleum’s CO2 EOR proposal, Occidental Petroleum must file a Class II permit application with DOGGR for these proposed EOR activities in a timeframe that provides the Energy Commission with sufficient information to reach a decision on the HECA application for certification within the applicant’s proposed schedule,” said the letter. “Energy Commission staff recommends that these Class II injection well permit applications be submitted as soon as possible and requests that SCS Energy provide the Energy Commission with a copy of these applications when submitted, as well as any additional information that may be required by DOGGR during their review.”

Hydrogen Energy California is proposing to design, construct and operate an IGCC power facility with carbon capture, utilization and sequestration in Kern County. The project will gasify a 75% coal and 25% petroleum coke (petcoke) fuel blend to produce a hydrogen-rich gas which will fuel a combustion turbine operating in combined cycle mode. The project will generate about 400 MW (gross) and 288 MW (net) of low-carbon baseload electricity while capturing CO2 and transporting it for EOR and sequestration. The project is designed to achieve at least 90% CO2 capture efficiency while permanently sequestering more than 2 million tons per year.

In an Oct. 31, 2011, letter to the commission, SCS Energy outlined the proposed project changes that helped trigger the March 16 commission letter.

  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) oxygen-blown dry feed gasification technology has been selected.
  • A new rail spur will be constructed to the project site in order to facilitate feedstock and equipment delivery and fertilizer and product off-take. This modification will help to reduce truck traffic on local roads.
  • A new, integrated fertilizer plant will produce about 1 million tons per year of nearly carbon free nitrogen-based fertilizer.
  • The 75% coal-25% petcoke fuel blend will be used for the life of the facility.
  • Natural gas will be used for start-up only, not for gas turbine routine operation. A natural gas interconnection will be made with a PG&E natural gas pipeline located approximately 8 miles north of the project site.
  • Potable water will be delivered from a new West Kern Water District potable water production site less than 1 mile away or from new on-site well(s), thereby eliminating the need for a 5.5 mile potable water line.

The project combined cycle power block will include one single-shaft nominal 405 MWe MHI M501G “G” class advanced combustion turbine (CT)/steam turbine (ST)/generator configured to utilize syngas, one heat recovery steam generator (HRSG), and a water cooled surface condenser. The CT, HRSG, and ST will convert chemical energy contained in the syngas fuel to electricity through the shaft power developed by the CT and ST generator and through the thermal energy recovered from the CT exhaust. This exhaust gas will be converted to high-energy steam in the HRSG and combined with the high-energy steam recovered in the gasification process to generate additional electricity in the ST. The “G” class machine is arranged in a single shaft configuration where the CT and ST share a common shaft/generator.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.