GE-Led Carbon Capture Project at Southern Company Site Gets DOE Funding

A GE Gas Power front-end engineering design (FEED) study will receive $5,771,670 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management following successful completion of the award negotiation phase.

The funding is focused on carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) for power generation applications with a goal of commercial deployment by 2030. GE Gas Power will work with Southern Company, Linde, BASF, and Kiewit to develop a detailed plan for integrating carbon capture technologies with a natural gas combined cycle plant to capture approximately 95% of carbon dioxide emissions generated.

The FEED study will be conducted at Southern Company subsidiary Alabama Power’s James M. Barry Electric Generating Plant (Figure 1), located in Bucks, Alabama. The units being retrofit are two GE 7F.04 gas turbines. GE will research advanced technology and control concepts to integrate the 2 x 1 combined cycle power plant with Linde’s Gen 2 carbon capture solution based on BASF OASE blue technology. GE said the project will also include gas and steam turbine equipment enhancements to improve the carbon capture process, with a goal of reducing the impact on the power plant’s output, performance, and equipment cost.

1. Alabama Power’s James M. Barry Electric Generating Plant is located on the Mobile River approximately 20 miles north of Mobile. The plant has six units including both coal- and gas-fired units with a total nameplate generating capacity of 2,370 MW. Source: Alabama Power

In an exclusive interview with POWER, John Catillaz, director of Decarbonization—Marketing with GE Gas Power, explained why the FEED study is so important, not only for the companies involved, but also for the entire thermal generation industry. He said the project team expects to show how a retrofit can reduce carbon emissions by 95% while preserving the vital characteristics and attributes thermal power plants offer to the grid, including efficiency, flexibility, firm capacity, reliability, and the inertia that spinning assets provide. “That’s really core to the purpose of this study,” Catillaz said. At the same time, he said the study will also form part of a “decarbonization roadmap.”

Yet, Catillaz said there is “no free lunch.” When a CCUS retrofit is implemented, there is a thermal component required to run the system, which takes energy. “Many times, that can come off of either the bottoming cycle—the steam turbine itself to produce the thermal energy that’s needed in the chemical plant—or you can set up an auxiliary boiler. Either way, there’s a penalty, and our goal as an integrator here is to get these chemical plants—and when I say chemical plant I’m referring to the carbon capture and the power generation plant—to work in a manner that minimizes those types of impacts and also to get the two plants to work in harmony,” said Catillaz.

GE said that due to the complexity of the integration of CCUS technologies into an existing natural gas power plant, the FEED study, known as “Retrofittable Advanced Combined Cycle Integration for Flexible Decarbonized Generation,” will represent a prerequisite for future construction projects, and will provide a detailed blueprint and operating business guide expected to accelerate commercial deployment of other projects. With its expertise in power plant engineering, operability, and project management, GE will lead the full-scale integration of the study.

Partners in the project released statements in conjunction with the funding announcement. David Claggett, senior vice president at Kiewit Energy Group Inc., which will provide engineering, procurement, and construction capabilities, said, “The U.S. Department of Energy’s commitment to and investment in the development of accessible, scalable carbon capture solutions is crucial to the decarbonization of power generation. We look forward to working with the powerhouse of technical experts that are involved in the study and to making a meaningful, positive contribution in reducing carbon emissions at natural gas combined cycle facilities.”

“OASE Blue was developed specifically for large-scale post-combustion capture (PCC) technology,” said Todd Spengeman, business director—Standard Amines & OASE Gas Treating Excellence with BASF. “With low energy consumption and exceptionally flexible operating range is paramount technology for use in flue gas carbon capture from sources such as fossil power generation plants or steam turbines.”

“Developing large-scale decarbonization solutions for industrial processes and value chains is at the core of Linde’s mission to make the world more productive,” said Dominic Cianchetti, senior vice president of Linde Engineering Americas. “Therefore, Linde is pleased to collaborate with GE on developing projects for gas power CO2 capture in North America.”

In conjunction with the funding announcement, GE and Linde also revealed the two companies had signed an agreement in December 2021 to strengthen their existing cooperation with a specific focus on exploring carbon capture and storage opportunities in North America. GE said the deal will leverage the company’s expertise in power generation technology and plant integration with Linde’s experience with post combustion amine-based carbon capture processes, and is expected to “provide new opportunities for North America customers that operate GE gas turbines to pursue the adoption of CCUS technologies.”

In reference to the Plant Barry retrofit, Catillaz suggested DOE funding was instrumental in moving the project forward. “These types of first-mover projects would not be possible without the support of the DOE,” he said. “The DOE has really been an excellent partner in understanding the importance of this—understanding what it means to the grid as part of a larger national energy planning strategy—and I can’t say enough how excited we are that DOE recognizes this and is working with us to enable these first projects.”

Catillaz also commended Southern Company for its part in the project. He noted that Southern Company is a valued GE Gas Power customer, “a really important one,” he said. “It goes without saying how progressive they are from carbon capture as an investor in the national carbon capture facility in Alabama. To be able to work with them on this plant—a very important plant—they’re a great partner with us, and we have continued to collaborate with them on multiple different avenues, but this is just another great example.”

“GE is pleased that the Department of Energy has recognized the importance of this study and grateful for their support. We look forward to joining forces with Southern Company, Linde, BASF and Kiewit to execute this study focused on the integration of carbon capture technologies on a fully functional natural gas combined cycle power plant to help lower the cost of carbon capture and improve the operability and flexibility of the integrated plant,” Scott Strazik, CEO of GE Power, said in a statement.

Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).

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