Project Merit: Other Renewable & Low-Carbon Power


Constellation, an Exelon company, for winning a competition to design, build and operate a 27 MW biogas power plant at L.A. Sanitation's enormous Hyperion Treatment Plant. With natural gas prices projected to remain low for many years, developing biogas projects from landfills or wastewater treatment plants is a difficult economic challenge, and many high-profile projects have been sidelined in the last several years. The $130 million project will use three combustion gas turbines with heat recovery steam generators for efficient combined cycle generation to power the wastewater treatment plant, with a portion of the steam extracted for plant processes. The oldest wastewater treatment plant in Los Angeles-and one of the largest in the world-Hyperion handles 350 million gallons of sewage on a dry day, and up to 1,000 on a wet day, according to LA Sanitation. Constellation and its subcontractors will develop, construct and operate the facility for 10 years, with an option to extend the agreement for five additional years. Commercial operation is expected by the end of 2016.

NRG Energy and JX Nippon for their joint venture announced in 2014 to build what may well become the largest post-combustion carbon capture and storage project near Houston. The Petra Nova Carbon Capture Project is expected to capture about 1.4 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, compress and pipe it for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The project will capture approximately 90% of the CO2 emitted in a flue gas slipstream from 240 MW of coal power capacity at the 2475 MW WA Parish power plant. The captured CO2 will be used at the West Ranch oil field, which is 25% owned by each of the JV partners, where it is expected to boost oil production from 500 barrels to approximately 15,000 barrels per day. NRG Energy CEO David Crane called the project an "enormous step" in the direction of providing "safe, affordable and reliable power to our customers, but without risking the health of the planet as a result of our activities." Sargent & Lundy has been awarded the EPC contract for the project which is expected to be completed in 2016.

Saskpower for commissioning in October 2014 the world's first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at a coal-fired power plant, the 110 MW Unit #3 of SaskPower's 50-year-old Boundary Dam power plant in Estevan, Saskatchewan. The carbon-capture unit, installed at a cost of about $1.2 billion, is capturing about 1 million tons annually, 90% of the power plant's carbon dioxide (CO2). Oil and gas producer Cenovus Energy is buying most of the captured CO2 from Boundary Dam and using it for enhanced oil recovery. "It's the first project [of its kind] in the world, [and] it's the only place you can go and actually look at a real power plant," with CCS, said Jon Gibbons, Director of the UK CCS Research Centre, in a video produced by Saskpower. "The knowledge that Saskpower is generating and willing to share through [the CCS Consortium] is the most powerful method we can envision to accelerate CCS," said Steve Whittaker, principal manager, geological storage, for the Global CCS Institute. The commercial development of CCS has been slow. In its 2008 report on CCS, CCBJ listed 39 proposed CCS projects, most of them slated for existing or new coal power plants, and the vast majority were canceled long ago due to the recession and low carbon prices. Saskpower CEO Robert Watson said the company will assess the economic performance of the unit to determine whether CCS is viable for other power plants in the utility's system. "We want to see how much per kilowatt hour it is to produce the power with carbon capture and compare that against possible future designs, so others in future have something to benchmark against."

Missouri River Energy Services for leading a $380 million project to convert the Lake Red Rock Dam near Des Moines, Iowa, to a hydroelectric power facility. Once converted, the dam will be the second largest hydroelectric power plant in the state, generating 36.4 MW during peak water levels. In 2013, the Iowa legislature enacted legislation allowing the project to receive the same tax credits as wind energy projects. The Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued final approvals for the project in 2014. The North Tailwater Recreation Area of Lake Red Rock has already been closed, marking the beginning of the project's construction. The Newton Daily News in Iowa reported on August 11 that state officials are hoping that the success of the project spurs the development of another large hydroelectric project on the Mississippi River near Iowa's eastern border. While there is very little opportunity for new greenfield dams in the continental United States, approximately 10 GW of hydropower capacity could be developed on existing un-powered dams such as Lake Red Rock, according to the National Hydropower Association.