Potential Alternatives to CCS for Carbon Compliance
The EPA has proposed the first Clean Air Act standard for carbon emissions from new power plants. Known as the New Source Performance Standard (NSPS), the proposed rule would give new coal plant operators two options for compliance: Using carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology to limit carbon emissions, or averaging carbon emissions over a 30-year period.
From several conversations I’ve had with folks in the power industry, I gather that many of you share the point of view of Scott Segal, executive director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, who says that CCS is “still highly speculative, likely expensive, and EPA has provided no assurance that it will help with inevitable permit delays.”
So if the NSPS for carbon is passed in a similar form as the proposed version, will there be any other options to compliance other than installing CCS?
Todd Palmer, a partner at Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, said there could be other options for complying with the proposed regulations, such as designing a new fossil-fired facility as a combined heat and power plant (CHP). “We’re going to see more and more industrial facilities looking at on-site CHP. The power from the CHP unit would go to the host facility; it would not be sold retail, and therefore would not be subject to this rule.”
Another compliance option for the proposed NSPS could exist in technology like the Transport Integrated Gasification technology (TRIG) currently being installed at Mississippi Power Company’s proposed Kemper County coal-fired power plant. According to parent company Southern Co., the TRIG technology installed on the 582 MW plant would result in 65 percent carbon capture, making CO2 emissions equivalent to a similarly sized natural gas combined cycle power plant.
TRIG technology was developed by the Department of Energy, Southern Co. and KBR at the Power Systems Development Facility in Wilsonville, Ala. In addition to carbon capture, the technology is also effective at capturing SO2, NOX and mercury.
The Kemper County plant is expected to be completed in 2014 and cost Southern Co. about $2.4 billion.
Jane Montgomery, partner at Schiff Hardin LLP, said the impending rule could give rise to the creation new technology options that are more commercially viable than CCS. “If your business is being cut off at the knees, you come up with something to try to fix it.”
For more on the proposed NSPS, see my upcoming story in the May issue of Power Engineering.