What’s the time table for Good Spring and GreenGen as IGCC facilities with CO2 handling capabilities?
GreenGen commenced design in 2004 and is currently under construction. GreenGen will likely begin offering electricity in mid 2011. Good Spring IGCC hopes to break ground sometime in the Summer of 2010 and begin producing power in 2013.
Can companies in the USA and China really work effectively on Climate related matters?
The cooperation between the two countries must work. If the leading emitters of greenhouse gases fail to take leadership, it will be difficult to expect others to follow. We have found Huaneng to be a focused and engaged party intent on showing commercial-scale results. Both companies have committed to staffing people at one another’s offices in China and the USA to ensure communications and progress happens in a coordinated and timely manner. There is no time for pageantry and nice-sounding talk.
What kinds of expertise do the parties bring to this relationship?
We evaluated many IGCC technologies and found the technology from TPRI being used at GreenGen was the most efficient for a commercial-scale project. In exchange for information on how to best implement the IGCC technology from GreenGen, we will provide post-gasification clean-up technologies. These technologies should easily make Good Spring IGCC the lowest emission plant of it’s kind and allow GreenGen to be as clean as possible and similar to Good Spring IGCC in areas of particulate, SOx, NOx, mercury, and CO2 emissions.
How do you propose to sequester the CO2?
We chose Pennsylvania in large part because the geology is favorable for CO2 sequestration. The State also has plans for a pipeline network and central sink (storage). We are heavily in favor of the Statewide network because many utilities could use such a system over time. However, if the State cannot construct such a system for any reason, we have sites nearby and even directly underneath our plant. We plan to liquefy the CO2 and pump it underground into sandstone formations so that the CO2 will bind with calcium and become a solid which would not likely seep out. We can sequester about half our CO2 at startup and move towards 90% over 5 years of operation. This means we could meet EPACT stated goals about 10 years ahead of schedule.
What happens next if all goes well?
If this first project goes well, we intend to construct several similar projects in the same area. Our analysis shows that the PJM electricity grid is facing an aging infrastructure of suppliers and a lack of significant and cleaner sources. Combined with rate caps that expire in 2010 and increasing alternative energy portfolio requirements in the State of Pennsylvania, the market is very attractive for us to invest into for a long period of time.
Please outline some of the innovative features envisioned for the GreenGen (Tianjin, China) and GoodSpring (Good Spring, PA) Clean Coal Power Plants?
GreenGen and GoodSpring are based on the TPRI technology so they have some common traits that are unique in the industry. Record setting levels of cleanliness in acid rain causing gasses, mercury, and particulates should allow both facilities to reduce those major emissions by about 99% or greater when compared to the average coal power plant in the USA. GreenGen is about 4 years older in design when compared to GoodSpring IGCC and in the past few years, the technology for CO2 handling and processing has been dramatically improved. Thus, GoodSpring IGCC will capture and sequester 50% of the CO2 at start-up while GreenGen will phase into their CO2 handling over a period of 4 to 5 years. Over 90% of the CO2 will be sequestered or managed eventually, but GoodSpring IGGC’s time required to achieve 90%+ CO2 sequestration should be shorter.
I'm sure this is a complex arrangement. Can you share some insight for others who may seek to follow a similar path with regard to clean coal technology sharing relationships?
International relationships have inherent complexities which all companies must address. The political and economic climate is very favorable for US, European, and Chinese companies to work closer together on climate impacting activities. For our relationship in China, the greatest insight we can offer to a US company seeking a relationship with a Chinese partner is the need to understand and respect the multiple goals that the Chinese company is likely to seek. We have been able to demonstrate a level of flexibility and execution which has addressed a great many objectives for our Chinese counterpart in exchange for access to their tremendous IP and ongoing R&D resources. Coal’s unique position in the economies of the USA and China make cooperation between these two countries industrial participants nearly a necessity for an optimized solution of any commercial size.
There is public resistance and skepticism about the possibilities of implementing clean coal power plants. How will you address and satisfy the critics?
Education to create an informed public plus demonstrating the benefits and cost of a modern coal based plant are well worth the efforts that the US Department of Energy and our National Laboratories have undertaken. The idea that billions of people will not change or impact the world is ridiculous. If we decide that a carbon-free energy world is the end goal, then we must be prepared to continue advancing the agenda over a period of decades because it simply cannot feasibly happen in a few short years. We need to shift the discussion to what solutions and plans can keep the world moving forward on climate matters without introducing extremes on either side of any topic of debate that would result in a stalemate or complete stop to progress. Specifically, we need the USA, China, and India to move in unison. It took several years for the US public to really understand the cost and trade-offs associated with ethanol fuel and many changed their view with greater information. We think the critics of utilizing coal will begin to see projects around the world demonstrate coal gasification and CO2 handling which so dramatically improves the cleanliness over what has been done in the past that they will call for IGCC and similar technologies to replace the large installed base of the older coal boilers. The money and amount of jobs at stake are enormous. If the USA doesn’t participate in a meaningful way, it would be an economic and climate loss for not just the USA, but the entire world.
About Albert Lin
Mr. Lin is a Board Member and financial advisor of both Future Power PA and Future Fuels. He is also a founding member of Sooner Cap, an investment bank, and AmTech, a leading technology advisory company.
As a hedge fund manager, Mr. Lin’s early investments included multi-billion dollar companies such as NETGEAR, Qualcomm and RIM-Blackberry. The Wall Street Journal named him an “All-Star Analyst.” He currently chairs several panels and serves on the boards of both public and private companies. He is a graduate of the University of Texas.