Clay Briscoe, Vice President, Power (Product Line and Operations) McDermott, speaks about an industry recognised technology breakthrough, along with its likely impact on the future energy landscape and its implications for the Middle East
NET Power is an electricity generating process burning fossil fuels but which has zero emitted carbon dioxide. Could you tell us a little more about the process?
While traditional power plants utilise water and a combustible fuel source to produce steam, the NET Power technology differentiates itself by using pure oxygen and natural gas combined with recycled heated carbon dioxide to generate electricity. The proprietary process, called the Allam Cycle, combusts oxidant and carbon dioxide at supercritical temperatures and pressures to drive the turbine. Following combustion, the majority of the carbon dioxide is reheated and recycled while a minority is pressurised as pipeline ready pure carbon dioxide.
Your pilot plant in LaPorte, Texas will initially produce 25 megawatts of electricity increasing to 50 megawatts. At what capacity do you see NET Power plants being commercialised in the future?
The U.S. based economical model for a first of a kind plant will provide a net electrical output of 303MW with a starting net plant efficiency between 55 and 59 per cent. While currently competitive with best in class natural gas power projects, optimisation of equipment will continue gains in net plant efﬁciency. When considering electrical output combined with carbon capture, offtake gas revenue and carbon tax credits, NET Power is as efﬁcient and as cost effective as current natural gas power plants. In addition, NET Power aligns with our goal to reduce environmental impacts; speciﬁcally through the elimination of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from a smaller project footprint.
I noticed that NET Power was listed as one of MIT’s top 10 breakthrough technologies in 2018. The technology has obviously gained a signiﬁcant amount of interest internationally. However, do you see a need for it in the Middle East?
The impacts of nitrous oxides and power plant particulates to the atmosphere are a global challenge when utilising natural gas in traditional power generation technology. NET Power eliminates NOx with the use of pure oxygen and, as stated previously, captures virtually all of the carbon dioxide. Speaking to the Middle East speciﬁcally, the NET Power technology requires virtually no water and can be a net water producer when combined with air-cooling. Furthermore, the by-product of pipeline- ready carbon dioxide is critical to the enhanced oil recovery market to increase oil production in depleting oil ﬁelds. Most importantly, NET Power technology is capable of utilising sour gas as a fuel source, which is abundant to the Middle East region.
We are currently in the transition to a lower carbon economy and with a growing share of renewables. So do you believe that this technology will play a pivotal yet permanent role in the power supply chain?
NET Power differentiates itself from other clean energy technology because it is a reliable and continuous energy producer. While wind and solar require storage capabilities or gas operated alternate power to maintain continuous power supply, NET Power does not. NET Power as both an energy producer combined with by-product sales is more economical when comparing levelised costs of renewable energy generation. Because of these economics, NET Power will play a pivotal and sustainable role in the future of power generation.