Solid oxide fuel cell demonstration plant for Norway

Norske Shell, part of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation are to demonstrate a unique solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) power generation technology fuelled by natural gas, which could ultimately lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The demonstration is to take place in Norway.

The 250-kiloWatt plant will be installed in Norway and operated by Norske Shell to demonstrate that the carbon dioxide normally emitted in exhaust gases can be successfully recovered at low additional cost and with the highest electrical efficiency of any fuel cell type in the industry.

The technology being used is the result of a combination of the fuel cell developed by Siemens Westinghouse and carbon dioxide recovery technology from Shell Hydrogen. It follows a co-operative development agreement, announced last year, to develop and market this technology.

The intention is that this technology will be used to generate electricity from natural gas with all the carbon dioxide emitted being captured. In the oil and gas industry, the carbon dioxide can then be sequestered in underground reservoirs. Smaller scale markets for carbon dioxide can also be served.

For example, there could be special applications such as fish farms where carbon dioxide can enhance the growth of algae or agricultural greenhouses where it can enhance the growth of crops. An additional benefit of the technology is that nitrogen oxide emissions are extremely low (at less than 0.5-PPM) compared with other power generation technologies.

One of the early applications is likely to be offshore oil and gas operations, which require huge amounts of electricity. This is particularly important in Norway where 20% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions come from its offshore activities.

Norske Shell has already stated its intention to use such technologies in its offshore operations to help meet national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The company is also actively investigating the possibility of utilising the high purity carbon dioxide produced in this project to support a fish farm project.

For test purposes this first demonstration unit will be placed onshore.

Siemens Westinghouse is developing SOFCs under an existing co-operative agreement with the US Department of Energy, administered by the National Energy Research Laboratory.