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article imageKemper 'clean coal' power plant staggers under Trump funding cuts

By Karen Graham     Jun 13, 2017 in Technology
President Trump's proposed funding cuts for research and development has put the nation's first "clean coal" power plant in serious jeopardy of ever getting up and running.
The first attempt at building a coal-fired power plant that captures carbon dioxide before it is burned was given funding by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2008. The initial funding for the project came to $2,014,812,860.00 with completion expected in April 2020.
At the time, Southern Company Services, Inc., in a team effort with Mississippi Power Company and Kellogg Brown and Root, LLC, (KBR) were given approval to design, construct, and operate a coal-based Transport Integrated Gasifier (TRIG) Combined Cycle power plant with 65 percent CO2 capture at a site in Kemper County,
The site for the Kemper power plant was chosen because of the Mississippi lignite deposits  giving M...
The site for the Kemper power plant was chosen because of the Mississippi lignite deposits, giving Mississippi Power access to a fuel not subject to significant transportation costs or market volatility.
Mississippi Power
Even in 2008, the technology that allowed for the capture of carbon dioxide was a big deal because it would allow the use of cheap but dirty fossil fuels like coal. The technology was based on KBR's catalytic cracking technology, Using KBR's technology would capture at least 3.0 million tons of CO2 from the plant per year, that would then be transferred via pipeline for use in existing enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations in Mississippi.
Kemper project plagued with technical problems
The Kemper power plant began testing equipment last year, and since that time, it has been plagued with leaks and other problems, reports Seeking Alpha. A new SEC filing on June 6, 2017, says the leaks will require the “redesign and eventual replacement of the syngas cooler super-heaters sooner than originally expected."
Southern's now saying it will take another 18 to 24 months before "long-term sustained operations" can be achieved. Southern's Mississippi Power unit, which is building the plant, says it has already spent $7.5 billion on the plant, coal mines and pipelines to carry captured carbon dioxide to oil companies, which would pump it underground to extract more crude oil from wells. That is a big jump from the $2.014 billion the plant was forecast to cost.
How would a cut in R and D funding impact Kemper?
Live Science is reporting that under President Trump's proposed budget, the administration is calling for slashing research on capturing carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion and producing cleaner coal technologies. If approved the Department of Energy's fossil fuel research and development would be cut by 56 percent and "clean coal" research by nearly 70 percent.
In 2016  a landmark was reached with the first production of Syngas.
In 2016, a landmark was reached with the first production of Syngas.
Mississippi Power
David Schlissel, who directs resource planning analysis at the Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said he was shocked by the president's budget proposal, especially after he campaigned to bring back coal jobs. Research into finding ways to reduce CO2 emissions "is the only way of giving coal any kind of chance of being a long-term fuel source," he said.
"Given that," he added, "I don't see much chance of carbon capture really being an economically viable alternative on any kind of scale in the US." But he also sees Kemper's technical problems being a setback for carbon-capture technology that may end up scaring off private industry.
"Private industry doesn't want to bear the risk of the projects if they fail, or like Kemper, they cost a whole lot more than they originally thought," said Schlissel, a critic of the Mississippi project.
More about kemper power plant, Clean coal, CO2 capture, research and development, Funding cuts
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