NRG nears final DOE approval on Parish CO2 capture project

The U.S. Department of Energy has released the draft environmental impact statement for the W.A. Parish Post-Combustion Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Capture and Sequestration Project, which is being done in cooperation with NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG), the owner of the coal-fired plant.

This project at a Texas power plant was selected by DOE to receive financial assistance under Round 3 the Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI) program. DOE proposes to provide NRG with up to $167m (about 20% of the overall project cost), with the project to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of a retrofit, commercial-scale CO2 capture and compression system, coupled with use of the captured CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and ultimate sequestration, DOE noted in a Sept. 21 Federal Register notice.

NRG would design and construct a system that would capture at least 90% of the CO2 in an up to 250-MW equivalent (MWe) flue gas slipstream of the combustion exhaust gases from the existing 650-MW coal-fired Unit 8 at W.A. Parish, located in Fort Bend County, Texas. The captured CO2 (up to 5,475 tons per day) would be transported about 80 miles in a new pipeline to be constructed by NRG. The CO2 would be used for EOR and ultimately sequestered at the existing West Ranch oil field in Jackson County, Texas.

DOE is taking public comment on the draft EIS until Nov. 5. DOE will also conduct two public hearings at which government agencies, private sector organizations, Native American tribes, and individuals are invited to present oral and written comments on the draft EIS. The public hearings will be held in Thompsons, Texas, on Oct. 10, 2012, and Edna, Texas, on Oct. 11.

Project would demonstrate amine-based CO2 capture

The DOE funding would help with project construction and also the 35-month demonstration period of the CO2 capture and compression system. It is up to NRG whether the system is economic to operate beyond the 35-month demonstration period.

The project would use an advanced amine-based CO2 absorption technology. It would be designed to capture approximately 1.6 million tons of CO2 per year from the Unit 8 exhaust that the facility would otherwise emit.

A new natural gas-fired cogeneration plant, estimated to be 80 MW in size, would also be constructed on the plant property to produce the auxiliary power and steam needed for operation of the proposed CO2 capture system. A General Electric (GE) Frame 7EA generator (or a similar unit) would be used in the cogeneration plant, the draft EIS shows.

A table in the draft EIS that shows projects awarded funding in Round 3 of the CCPI shows just how tough it’s been to get these projects off the ground at a time of tight money and regulatory uncertainty about CO2 restrictions. Three of the winning projects were withdrawn by the applicants; an American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) commercial-scale CO2 project at its Mountaineer coal plant in West Virginia, a CO2-capture project by Basin Electric Power Cooperative at its Antelope Valley coal plant in North Dakota and a Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) CO2 project.

W.A. Parish consists of four gas-fired utility boilers and four coal/gas-fired utility boilers (Units 1 through 8) which produce steam for the generation of electricity. An auxiliary boiler provides steam for startup of Units 1, 2, and 4. The plant also includes a gas turbine, which supplies electricity in emergency situations.

NRG plans to begin construction of the proposed project in late 2012, at the earliest, and construction would take about 24 months. Construction would be followed by a three- to six-month commissioning and start-up period to verify that all process systems function properly and achieve project requirements.

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.