Kern County, California, a place the size of Connecticut just north of Los Angeles and home to Bakersfield will be the site of the nation’s first hydrogen production and carbon capture facility. In the past, I’ve talked about the U. S. government’s FutureGen program using fossil fuels to create hydrogen and electricity at power plants and then sequestering the CO2 by piping it underground.
The Bakersfield facility, which is a joint venture among Hydrogen Energy International LLC, BP Alternative Energy and Rio Tinto will create a process similar to this. Instead of using only coal as the main source of energy, the Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) facility will use a blend of “petroleum coke and coal, as needed.”
The hydrogen fueled power plant is expected to generate 400 MW of electricity or enough to power 150,000 homes in the county. The CO2, meanwhile will be captured and stored underground in deep geological formations.
A side benefit of this kind of carbon capture and storage scenario is that a company called Occidental Petroleum intends to use the CO2 and pipe it into the Elk Hills oil field helping them to produce more petroleum and increase domestic production. Instead of drilling new unsightly oil wells offshore like the current administration wants, this serves as an alternative method to get the most oil as possible out of currently producing wells.
The hydrogen power plant itself leaves a very low carbon footprint compared to most other fossil fuel powered electrical generation facilities. This may not be an ideal alternative energy resource such as renewable solar, wind, hydroelectric or geothermal but it will be cleaner than power plants currently in place and will help ease dependence upon foreign energy.