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Baker Hughes invests in NET Power to deploy emissions-free gas-fired power plants


Commercial deployment in four years

Technology captures CO2, other gases

NET Power's goal to develop utility-scale natural gas-fired power plants that do not emit carbon dioxide got a boost Feb. 22 when Baker Hughes joined the strategic partnership with and invested in NET Power to help advance technical and commercial deployment.

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"NET Power is moving from development to commercialization and will work with Baker Hughes over the next four years to bring the technology to market globally," Akash Patel, NET Power's CFO, said in a phone call.

Baker Hughes will help advance NET Power's electric power system that "generates no atmospheric emissions and inherently captures all carbon dioxide" as part of a partnership that includes McDermott, Constellation, Occidental subsidiary Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, and 8 Rivers Capital, according to a statement.

NET Power's system is based the Allam Cycle, named for its lead inventor, Rodney Allam. The cycle starts with the high-pressure combustion of a hydrocarbon fuel with pure oxygen and CO2. The combustion process creates the high temperature CO2-dominated working fluid for a specialized supercritical CO2 combustion turbine, according to the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

NET Power's plants burn natural gas with pure oxygen and the resulting CO2 is recycled through the combustor, turbine, heat exchanger, and compressor, "creating lower-cost power with zero emissions," according to the company's website.

The power plants will operate with "high efficiency and produce only electricity, water, and pipeline-ready or sequestration-ready CO2 that will be permanently locked away from the atmosphere," it said in the statement.

NET Power's technology also captures industrial gases that can be sold to increase cost competitiveness with existing combined-cycle natural gas turbines. Initially, the company is looking to deploy the plants in regions with existing CO2 infrastructure where it can be used for enhanced oil recovery or other industrial processes.

"We are methodically going through how the deployments will work," Patel said.

"Initially they will be in places with existing CO2 infrastructure like Texas, the Gulf Coast and Rockies region that have 5,000 miles of CO2 pipelines in place," he said.

Cost competitiveness

This seems like a logical place to start deployment, he said, adding that Europe also has CO2 infrastructure in place that can allow for "pretty quick development."

The goal is to be cheaper than a combine-cycle gas turbine without any CO2 or other industrial gas sales by the time NET Power's 20th plant is built, Patel said.

Their technology is already cheaper than a CCGT when the industrial gas sales are included, he said.

Patel said their power plants essentially have five revenue streams: electricity, CO2, argon, oxygen, and nitrogen.

As states look to decarbonize their power generation sectors, zero-emissions dispatchable technologies have been identified as critical components. These would be power generation resources that can mimic the characteristics of a gas-fired power plant without the emissions, thus helping balance intermittent renewable energy resource output.

For example, New York has a legislatively mandated target of zero emissions power by 2040 and the New York Independent System Operator has estimated zero-emissions dispatchable resources will account for 10% of the power generation fuel mix by that time, while noting the technology is not commercially available today.

Patel said NET Power's plants will start as baseload but will be fully dispatchable.

In the US, over 60% of the population lives in an area that could sequester CO2, he said. New York has the Marcellus Shale and other geologic formations, so it would be possible to deploy a NET Power plant there.

"We have not had discussions specifically with people in New York, but the opportunity is there," Patel said.

The company will license its technology to global customers.

"Having recently demonstrated the NET Power technology with the synchronization of our La Porte, Texas, plant to the grid, NET Power now welcomes Baker Hughes into NET Power," CEO Ron DeGregorio said in the media release.

"Our focus now shifts excitedly to full commercialization and global deployment, and the world-class experience of Baker Hughes fully completes and strengthens the NET Power team's plan to deliver this innovative clean-energy system," DeGregorio said.