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

July 06, 2005

Oil Companies, U.K. Utility to Fuel Power Plant with Hydrogen

BP, ConocoPhillips, Shell, and the largest utility in the United Kingdom announced on June 30th their plan to develop an industrial-scale "carbon free" power plant fueled with hydrogen. Under the plan, up to 70 million cubic feet of natural gas will be converted into hydrogen each day to fuel a new 350-megawatt power station near Peterhead in northeast Scotland. The hydrogen production process will generate carbon dioxide, which will be captured and shipped via existing pipelines to an oil field in the North Sea, 150 miles off the coast, where it will be injected into the oil reservoir. Compared to a power plant fueled directly with natural gas, the proposed plant will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 90 percent, storing about 1.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Along with the reduced emissions, the carbon dioxide will yield a side benefit for the oil companies: It will increase oil production and extend the useful life of their oil field by up to 20 years.

The companies have already carried out their initial engineering feasibility studies for the $600-million project, and are now starting detailed engineering design studies to confirm that the project is economically feasible. With those studies in hand by mid-2006, the companies will make their final investment decision, which could lead to the plant starting operations in 2009. The utility partner, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), currently operates a natural gas-fired power plant at the planned location. See the SSE press release and the BP Web site.