Sunday, July 20, 2014

Petra Nova Another DOE Boondoggle

The Department of Energy (Entropy) is at it again.  They are giving out hundreds of millions of dollars for a “green” boondoggle.  The Obama administration has to show some support for “clean” coal in power generation and they have found the perfect project to waste tax dollars on.

The Petra Nova coal fired power station in Texas is the site of the next DOE boondoggle.  NRG the owner of the plant will take a side stream of emissions from the power station and strip it of CO2 that will then be compressed for pipeline delivery to an oil field for use in enhanced oil recovery.  The DOE loves the project clean up emissions on a coal fired power station and sequester the carbon dioxide deep within the earth.  This all sounds great on the face of it.

Here is the NRG press release on the one billion dollar project that $167 million of tax payer money will be wasted on.

How do I know this is a boondoggle?  The math is simple.  The carbon emissions for 240 megawatts of coal fired power will be 90% captured using power generated from a new natural gas fired power station.  The phys org article below gives us all the data.

Yes 1.6 million tons a year of CO2 emissions will be prevented using a new power station that emits 785,000 tons a year.  This saves 815,000 tons a year of CO2 emissions from 240 megawatts of power generation.  But if one does the math on the new combined cycle gas powered station one quickly sees that the equivalent of 275 megawatts of power and heat is needed.  They could have simply shut down the 240 megawatts of coal powered generation and replaced this with gas fired generation and then more than the 815,000 tons a year of CO2 emissions could have been saved.  Also a lot of money could have been saved.  My calculations show that shutting the 240 mw of coal fired power generation and replacing this with state of the art combined cycle gas generation would save approximately 1,100,000 tons a year of CO2 emissions.   Also untold monetary costs of operating both power stations and the entire chemical stripping process would also be saved.

The project is thermodynamically and economically idiotic.  It makes absolutely no sense spending a billion in capital and spending hundreds of millions of dollars in operating costs each year to save fewer CO2 emissions than could have been accomplished by the simple replacement of 240 megawatts of coal generation with gas generation.  The combined cycle gas plant could have been built for less than a quarter billion dollars.

The chemistry of amine stripping of CO2 from a mixed gas stream is nothing new.  I witnessed this on a coal fueled ammonia plant in South Africa over 40 years ago.  This project does not further science. It is simply another DOE boondoggle with taxpayers and ratepayers footing the bill.  NRG is getting to be brilliant at extracting money in “green” boondoggles.  They are a major player together with Google in the Ivanpah solar project that dispatches some of the most expensive bird killing electricity to the grid.

Dr. Moniz is getting to be as incompetent as Dr. Chu who he replaced.  Projects like the Petra Nova carbon capture should be defunded by the DOE and stopped.  The DOE was mighty proud to use our taxpayer dollars for the Petra Novafied project as shown in the link below.


  1. NRG Energy is getting pretty good at taking advantage of government and ratepayer stupidity. I visited it Ivanpah solar thermal plant in the Mojave Desert last week. It was a 390 MW plant that cost $2.3 billion that generates electricity for over 20 cents per kilowatt-hr. Poor saps in CA are stuck with most of this.

    Good posting as usual on renewable energy waste of money. Is Vinod Khosla involved somewhere with this boondoggle?

    James H. Rust, Professor of nuclear engineering

  2. Vinnie does not have his paw prints here just NRG and a gangrene Japanese group with Dr Moniz ha.ding out taxpayer monies

  3. Yep. I subsidize NRG.

    NRG is Houston Lighting and Power aka Reliant Energy.

    The Texans Reliant Stadium is being REBRANDED as NRG Stadium. Same crooks who gave me $900 Office Business Electricity Bills. And that's when Gasoline was < $3/gallon - their rational for hike from $300/cycle.

    The irony is that the Company was originally founded by Catholic nuns to bring cheaper energy to the poor!!!!

  4. Some of Houston's leading Medical Institutions at the Medical Center r Non Profit and Tax Exempt. And the Texas AG has to sue them to provide Indigent Care. Tax Payers r getting milked crazy and Texas doesn't even have Personal Income Tax. Its passed on to hostage held consumers.

  5. Dr. Shin this equals a carbon tax of $400 per US ton to Texans. 70 times what Europeans are paying per ton of CO2 in their cap and trade. This is crap and tirade

  6. Only Ernie Moniz can bring crap and tirade to the Carbon market. Time to call him to congress to answer about this boondoggle.

  7. Clean/Clean(er) coal is a misnomer. Like calling green(er) energy inputs (unequivocally) green. Until we start offering true life-cycle cost-accountings and address ALL externalities, for ALL energy resources, which should (eventually) level the 'playing field', Sequestration is expensive, inefficient. I'm afraid the sheeople will continue to be in the dark with baaaaaa baaaaa baaaad policy.