NRG Energy is the latest power generator to solicit government funding for a proposed carbon capture demonstration unit. It is also the newest member of the Energy Department’s National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC), an industry-based cleaner coal technology research center.

The Princeton, N.J., company on Tuesday said it had submitted a Clean Coal Power Initiative application to the DOE to build a postcombustion carbon capture demonstration unit at the company’s 2,490-MW coal-fired W.A. Parish plant southwest of Houston, Texas.

If built and operational as is expected in 2013, the demonstration plant will likely use Fluor Corp.’s advanced Econamine FG Plus technology to process flue gas from the plant equal in quantity to that of a 60-MW unit (to learn more about this technology, see "Commercially Available CO2 Capture Technology," POWER, August 2009). The unit will also be designed to capture 90% of incoming CO2—or just under a half million tons of CO2 annually—“a level that can prove the technology’s viability on a larger scale,” NRG said in a statement on Tuesday.

Once captured, the CO2 will be compressed using Ramgen/Dresser-Rand technology and used in enhanced oilfield recovery operations, becoming a revenue stream to offset a portion of the cost of the project. Sargent & Lundy LLC is expected to provide engineering support for the project.

The company said that to help research, develop, and demonstrate the project, it had joined the NCCC at the DOE’s Power System’s Development Facility in Wilsonville, Ala. Managed by Southern Co., the NCCC will work with scientists and a diverse array of technology developers from government, industry, and universities to conduct testing and analyses in power plant-scale settings when it is fully operational in 2010.

The NCCC’s current partners include American Electric Power (AEP), Luminant, Arch Coal, Peabody Energy, and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Southern Co. said in a statement Tuesday that the center expects to add more partners as its work progresses.
NRG Energy’s solicitation for cleaner coal technology subsidies is on par with AEP’s. Last week AEP asked for $334 million to pay about half the cost of installing the nation’s first commercial-scale carbon dioxide capture and storage system on its Mountaineer coal-fired power plant in New Haven, W.Va.

Last week, meanwhile, Dominion Virginia Power and Virginia Tech’s Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research applied for federal stimulus funding to cover half of the estimated $580 million cost of a carbon capture and storage demonstration project proposed for the 585-MW Virginia City power station being built by Dominion in Wise County, Va.

Duke Energy in January also applied for a DOE Clean Coal Power Initiative Round 3 grant, which could potentially offset up to 50% of the costs of carbon capture and storage at its Edwardsport coal gasification power plant in southwest Indiana.

The DOE’s Clean Coal Power Initiative is a cost-shared collaboration between the federal government and private industry to increase investment in low-emission coal technology by demonstrating advanced coal-based power generation technologies. Selected proposals must employ different technological concepts to achieve a goal of at least 90% CO2 capture efficiency.

Sources: NRG Energy, Southern Co., AEP, Dominion Power, POWERnews, DOE