This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 31, 2007

Gasification Power Plants Planned for Kentucky and Texas

While renewable energy technologies are supplying a growing fraction of the nation's electricity, energy companies are also pursuing cleaner ways to generate electricity from coal. On January 23rd, GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of General Electric, announced that it is investing in a Kentucky power plant that will convert coal into a fuel gas similar to natural gas, which will be fed into a combined cycle gas turbine. The 630-megawatt facility will be built in Henderson County, near the northwest corner of the state, with a 20 percent equity investment by GE. Construction is expected to begin late this year, with commercial operation beginning in 2010 or 2011. With the demand for coal still growing, the National Mining Association (NMA) announced on January 29th that it expects U.S. coal mines to set a third consecutive record in 2007, producing 1.17 billion tons of coal. See the press releases from GE and the NMA.

A gasification power plant is also being planned near Houston, Texas, but with a unique spin. Hunton Energy, an independent power producer, announced on January 24th its plans to build a $2.4 billion power plant that will gasify petroleum coke, a refinery byproduct similar to coal. A nearby Valero Energy Corporation refinery will provide the petroleum coke, and Hunton Energy will use a combined cycle gas turbine to generate as much as 1,200 megawatts of power. The company plans to sequester the carbon dioxide produced by the plant by injecting it into the ground, possibly as a means of enhancing oil recovery from nearby oil wells. The groundbreaking for the first phase of the power plant is scheduled for next year. See the Hunton Energy press release (PDF 59 KB). Download Adobe Reader.