Carbon-Free Future for Natural Gas
by Keefer Welsh
Natural gas-fired power plants are the largest generators of electricity in the U.S. and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Increasing natural gas production in the U.S. had bolstered storage levels above the five-year average going into this winter, and we are on track to remain above that average as we exit the withdrawal season. Concerns over the carbon emissions from natural gas are justified, but with the development of zero-emission power plants, a future fueled by natural gas looks a bit brighter.
Net Power, a subsidiary of 8 Rivers Capital, is in development of multiple zero-carbon power plants that actively capture and reincorporate all the carbon dioxide that they produce. The technology is based on a new process called the Allam Cycle which the company describes as a “breakthrough in power generation.” The process “uses a high-pressure, highly recuperative, oxyfuel, supercritical CO2 cycle that makes emission capture a part of the core power generation process, rather than an afterthought. The result is high-efficiency power generation that inherently produces a pipeline-quality CO2 byproduct at no additional cost to the system’s performance.”
Though this technology won’t solve all of the issues associated with natural gas, it does offer a carbon-free future for natural gas power generation in the U.S. Furthering the country’s transition to more sustainable energy grid while utilizing existing infrastructure and taking advantage of an oversupplied market.