With CO2 storage potential more certain, HECA again pursues gasification project okay

Saying it now has a more complete understanding of geologic storage potential for captured CO2, Hydrogen Energy California LLC on Nov. 30 asked the California Energy Commission to lift a suspension of the commission’s review of the company’s Application for Certification (AFC) of a coal/petroleum coke gasification power project.

The commission is taking comment on the Nov. 30 request until Dec. 15 and plans a public hearing on this matter in the near future. 

On May 5 of this year, Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) asked for this suspension after it had failed to come up with an agreement to sell captured CO2 from this project for enhanced oil recovery. That forced it to look at the potential for geologic storage only, with no oil recovery. The committee of commissioners handling the case on July 3 granted a suspension that is due to expire on Jan. 6, 2016.

“As has been suggested in its monthly status reports, HECA has determined to permanently sequester CO2 beneath the Project site utilizing Class VI wells permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),” said the Nov. 30 HECA request to lift the suspension. “This approach eliminates the need to contract with a CO2 off-taker, as well as the need to permit facilities and analyze associated environmental impacts at a site other than the Project site, all of which greatly simplify the environmental review and permitting of the Project.

“The Project site lies within the geologic basin known as the Southern San Joaquin Valley. The West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB) has studied the geologic CO2 storage potential of the rock formations in the Southern San Joaquin Basin in detail. The findings of these studies, which are summarized below, indicate that there is significant storage potential in the rock formations below the Project site.

“Previous studies demonstrate that the formations of the Southern San Joaquin Basin are a very large potential storage resource based upon criteria developed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and applied to California by the California Geological Survey.”

It is clear from the various studies that at least four sandstone formations underlying the project site meet the criteria for high storage potential, HECA added. Further reductions in the uncertainty of storage assessments would involve obtaining site-specific data by drilling a characterization well and performing a pilot CO2 injection at the project site.

The next steps for finalizing site location for storage and sequestration of HECA’s captured CO2 are:

  • Manipulate a geomodel to obtain volumetric estimates of the storage potential of the four target sandstone formations at the project site and produce preliminary simulations of CO2 injections at the volume and rate of projected CO2 from the HECA plant; and
  • Drill a characterization well and perform a pilot injection at the project site to obtain direct site-specific data on rock formations, including depths, thicknesses, porosities and permeabilities of target storage and overlying sealing formations.

“Applicant has used the period of suspension to identify a viable alternative for CO2 sequestration, and is now prepared to move forward with Project review and licensing,” said the Nov. 30 filing. “The alternative plan eliminates the need to coordinate with an independent CO2 off-taker and to review and permit facilities outside of the Project site, which simplifies Project review and licensing. Applicant requests that the Committee reinitiate the AFC proceedings to allow Applicant to coordinate with CEC staff on the development of the revised sequestration plan.”

The project would gasify blends of petroleum coke (25%) and coal (75%) to produce hydrogen to fuel a combustion turbine operating in combined cycle mode. The gasification component would produce 180 million standard cubic feet per day (MMSCFD) of hydrogen to feed a 400 MW (gross), 288 MW (net) combined cycle plant providing California with dispatchable baseload power to the grid. The gasification component would also capture approximately 130 MMSCFD of carbon dioxide (or approximately 90% at steady-state operation). The HECA project would also produce approximately 1 million tons of fertilizer for domestic use.

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.