While Democrats rail against the oil and gas industry, fossil fuel companies have built a natural gas plant with zero carbon dioxide emissions. The plant, which puts out 50 megawatts of electricity, has been operating near the town of La Porte, Texas for just over a year. It uses a new type of system called the Allam Cycle. The plant was built and is being operated by a firm called NET Power.
“The process involves burning fossil fuel with oxygen instead of air to generate electricity without emitting any carbon dioxide (CO2). Not using air also avoids generating NOx, the main atmospheric and health contaminant emitted from gas plants.”
The process burns natural gas, though it can also do the same for gasified coal, producing CO2 and water. The CO2 is used to turn the turbine and then is recycled. Excess CO2 is piped away for sequestration or to be sold to vendors which then use it for products like carbon fiber materials or carbon nanotubes. Nothing escapes into the atmosphere. The La Porte plant doesn’t have a stack.
The carbon capture plant is not only smaller but, when combined with the sale of carbon dioxide and other byproducts, produces dirt cheap electricity, about 1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour as opposed to 4.2 cents per kilowatt-hour from a conventional natural gas plant.
The investors in the carbon capture plant, which include Exxon Mobil, anticipate being able to sell such power generators throughout the developing world.
“Adam Goff, Policy Director for NET Power, discussed how this technology will really make a difference to global warming – in developing countries. These countries desperately need energy and are planning to install thousands of traditional coal plants, representing the largest potential increase in carbon emissions over the next several decades.
“Said Goff, …most 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.”
In conclusion, Forbes notes, “If the plant in La Porte performs as expected, and as it has so far, this is a real game-changer for natural gas. Since the United States is sitting on more natural gas than any country in the world, and it’s getting cheaper to get it out of the ground, this is no small game to change.”
The Democratic candidates do not seem to have heard of the new carbon capture technology. Their plans on how to address climate change begin and often ends with bashing the fossil fuel companies. At the second round of Democratic debates, Bernie Sanders railed, “We have got to be super aggressive if we love our children and if we want to leave them a planet that is healthy and is habitable. What that means is we got to take on the fossil fuel industry.”
Sanders has combined with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to demand a climate emergency. He, along with other Democrats, have announced their support for the Green New Deal.
The Green New Deal, which is more designed to upend the American economy, has several draconian features. The plan would not only ban fossil fuels by fiat, but would also ban air travel, private automobiles, and even cattle, the better to avoid cow flatulence from polluting the atmosphere. Curiously, the Green New Deal also bans nuclear power, which does not emit CO2.
The success of the carbon capture plant in La Porte suggests that private industry has stolen a march on government central planners once again. While Democrats are spinning plans that involve solar, wind, and making people do less with less, the companies that developed the La Porte plant have found a way to give people more power with less cost and no carbon emissions.
As the Houston Chronicle noted, the solution to the climate change problem is being developed by the oil and gas industry, deep in its very center in Texas. The same industry solved the energy crisis by developing hydraulic fracking to recover oil and natural gas from shale formations.
As a result, the United States is now a net oil and gas exporting country, no longer in thrall to the oil sheiks. Now the fossil fuel industry has developed the technology to make power from natural gas that is as clean if not cleaner than that derived by sun and wind.