Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) subsidiary Southern Company Services announced Oct. 15 the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) to jointly explore the deployment of clean coal power generation and carbon capture and storage technologies.
Through the agreement, the companies will jointly explore opportunities for these and other technologies in the U.S., the Republic of Korea and in developing nations where the environmentally acceptable utilization of coal could strengthen energy security.
Among the technologies to be evaluated is Transport Integrated Gasification (TRIG), the technology at the center of Southern subsidiary Mississippi Power‘s Kemper County energy facility that Southern Company and KBR are jointly marketing to energy companies worldwide. The Kemper facility is designed to generate electricity using low-rank coal (lignite) with resulting carbon emissions better than a similarly sized natural gas-fired plant. At least 65% of the plant’s carbon emissions are expected to be captured and used for enhanced oil recovery.
“This agreement with Korea recognizes the important role of advanced, low-carbon generation technologies such as TRIG in providing for clean and efficient power generation,” said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning. “With a shared focus on delivering real energy solutions through innovation, Southern Company and KEPCO can help address the world’s energy challenges through this partnership.”
The agreement also provides for the testing of KEPCO’s carbon capture technologies at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC) in Alabama, which is operated by Southern Company Services. Aligned with efforts by the U.S. and Korea to cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the NCCC conducts research and development (R&D) to evaluate and advance emerging carbon capture technologies through integration with a coal-fired power plant and a pilot gasification facility.
“This MOU brings together two respected energy companies with the proven ability to deliver meaningful results through innovation,” said KEPCO CEO Hwan-Eik Cho. “KEPCO’s leadership in developing carbon capture, clean coal and other advanced energy technologies will be important to achieving Korea’s aggressive greenhouse gas emission targets.”
Southern Co. has managed more than $10 billion in R&D investments since the 1960s. In addition to operating the NCCC, the Southern Company system’s environmental R&D includes conducting the nation’s largest demonstration of carbon capture on a pulverized-coal power plant at subsidiary Alabama Power‘s Plant Barry, as well as partnering with KBR to develop TRIG.
The MOU with KEPCO is the Southern Co. system’s fifth such agreement with a leading international energy company. Last year Southern Co. announced similar agreements with Shenhua Group Corporation Ltd. and China Huaneng Group – two of China’s largest energy companies – as well as with the Huaneng Clean Energy Research Institute. Earlier this year, Southern Company Services entered into a research agreement with the Korea Institute of Energy Research, a Korean government-funded research institute which collaborates with KEPCO in the development of advanced green energy technologies.
In addition to these agreements, Southern said that it continues to receive worldwide interest in TRIG from energy companies in regions with access to abundant supplies of low-rank coal.
With more than 4.5 million customers and approximately 46,000 MW of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Co. is a premier energy company serving the Southeast through subsidiaries like Georgia Power, Mississippi Power, Alabama Power and Gulf Power.