NET Power is developing multiple zero-carbon natural-gas power plants around the world, an executive revealed Monday, at cost parity or cheaper than conventional, polluting power plants.
Adam Goff, a principal at NET Power’s parent company, 8 Rivers Capital, revealed the projects at a workshop hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
“We have multiple 300MW-scale commercial projects in development,” Goff said in the Washington D.C. workshop on Deployment of Deep Decarbonization Technologies.
“None of them are announced yet, but we’ve got a couple in the U.S. and then some in Canada, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and Europe—the regions of the world where we have interest in developing these projects.”
Goff teased the projects once before, in a May appearance before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Yesterday he revealed more about the locations and economics.
“We see the U.S. as a launching pad where 45Q makes it the best place to launch projects,” Goff said, referring to the 45Q federal tax credit for carbon-capture projects.
“But over the long run, most of your projects aren’t going to be in the U.S. They’re going to be in your developing countries in Asia and in Africa, so you’re going to see China, India, Indonesia. To do that you have to be really cheap. You have to be at cost parity if not better than cost parity with conventional generation.”
45Q helps NET Power launch by offering a $50 tax credit for every ton of carbon sequestered. The NET Power plant captures all of its CO2 as part of its process, recycles some and diverts some for sale.
“A combined-cycle plant, they buy gas, they sell power; that’s their business,” Goff said. “We sell four different products.”
A NET Power plant sells power, CO2, and by-products including nitrogen and argon. The sale of those four products brings the cost of electricity from NET Power’s initial plant down to 1.9¢ per kilowatt hour, Goff said, compared to 4.2¢ for a conventional combined cycle natural gas plant.
Goff does not expect those prices to hold, because 45Q expires for plants built after 2024, and the value of nitrogen and argon will drop as NET Power plants bring more to market.
But even without the by-products, Goff said, a zero-carbon NET Power plant achieves cost parity with conventional natural gas, but with none of the emissions.
“If you take away these by-product revenues, just pound for pound we have the same cost as combined cycle, but you have no emissions at all—no NOx or SOx in cities in Korea and China and India that are worried about air pollution.”
A NET Power plant captures the carbon dioxide from burning natural gas and uses that CO2 under pressure—when the gas acquires some of the qualities of a liquid—where traditional power plants use water as a coolant or steam to drive turbines.
In NET Power’s design, some of that CO2, heated to 720º C, returns to the combustion chamber to boost the combustion of more gas. The remaining CO2 is diverted to commercial markets, where it can be used to carbonate soda pop, to decaffeinate coffee and tea, to make building materials, or to enhance oil and gas extraction from oil wells.
Backed by Exelon, McDermott, and Occidental Petroleum, and featuring a turbine specially designed by Toshiba, the NET Power concept has been hailed as a “game changer” by many observers in industry and at universities—if it works.
Yesterday, Goff ran through the milestones at the company’s demonstration plant in La Porte Texas:
“We started construction in 2016, finished at the end of 2017. We ran our full combustor test, done at the end of August 2018. That was kind of our big milestone, and the basic R&D phase is over. Since then we’ve been doing the turbine test path, which will finish up in the next couple months with us announcing we’ve produced power.”
Before members of Congress, he added:
“This facility is providing sufficient confidence in the technology to execute on the 300MW commercial-scale facilities that NET Power is presently developing.”
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