Norway’s Norsk Hydro is developing technology for a power station that emits just 10% of the carbon dioxide produced by a conventional gas-fired plant.
Gas-fired generation is already the cleanest from fossil sources, emitting half as much CO2 as coal per unit of power.
Norsk Hydro wants to start construction of Hydrokraft pilot plants with a total capacity of 1,200MW in western Norway, once it has completed a further 6-12 months’ development work with turbine manufacturers. It is currently in discussions with ABB, Siemens and General Electric.
‘We think by the end of this year we will be able to decide whether this is going to be built or not,’ said Torn Steinum, the firm’s vice-president for public affairs.
The Hydrokraft system achieves the huge reduction in emissions by separating natural gas into hydrogen and C02 and using only the former to fire the turbine.
Norsk Hydro plans to inject the 4m-5m tonnes of C02 the three 400MW pilot plants would produce into its offshore Grane field to enhance oil recovery. The field has heavy crude reserves and a low recovery rate.
Steinum said existing gas turbines used for power generation would need modification to burn pure hydrogen, which would raise the operating temperature from about 900 C to 1,400 C. An alternative would be to mix the hydrogen with steam to keep temperatures at present levels.
The capital cost of the pilot plants is put at £600m-£800m about double that of conventional gas-fired plant. However, apart from the big environmental benefit, Steinum said the value of the CO2 produced would compensate for the higher cost.