22 January 2008 - Masdar, Abu Dhabi's initiative for alternative energy, and Hydrogen Energy, the joint venture between BP and Rio Tinto, will develop the front-end engineering design of an industrial-scale hydrogen-fired power generation project with carbon capture in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Natural gas would be processed to create hydrogen and CO2. The hydrogen fuel would generate low-carbon electricity.
Rather than being emitted to the atmosphere, the CO2 would be captured, ready for transportation and injection into a producing oil field where it could replace natural gas currently being injected into the field to maintain pressure.
The injected CO2 has also the potential to increase the proportion of Abu Dhabi's oil that can be recovered.
Work has already started and front-end engineering and design of the project to be completed by the end of 2008, at a cost of some US$45m. At the heart of the plant would be a natural gas reformer and carbon capture facility where 100m cubic feet of natural gas per day would be transformed into hydrogen and CO2 gases.
The hydrogen gas would be used to fuel gas turbines and generate around 420 Megawatts of low-carbon electricity, with water vapour being the main emission. This would be enough to provide more than 5 per cent of all Abu Dhabi's current power generation capacity.
The project would limit greenhouse gas emissions by capturing some 90 per cent of the CO2 generated, and safely and permanently storing up to 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of decarbonising Abu Dhabi's entire domestic transport sector.
The CO2 would replace the natural gas currently being injected into oil fields, allowing the gas to be used to fuel Abu Dhabi's continued growth, or to be exported. The CO2 injected into the oil fields could also potentially enable previously unrecoverable oil to be produced. The CO2 would remain stored securely and permanently in the oil field beneath its natural impervious seal.
The overall project would require total capital investment (excluding the investment in CO2 transportation and sequestration) of about AED7bn (US$2bn). Subject to the completion of the engineering design and agreement on an enabling commercial structure, the partners aspire to make the decision to proceed with construction by early 2009.
This should allow the plant to come into commercial operation in 2012.