Hydrogen Energy California

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Hydrogen Energy California is a proposed 405-megawatt (MW) power station in Kern County, California. The plant would include carbon capture and storage.


Hydrogen Energy, a joint venture of BP and Rio Tinto, has proposed a new project for the oilfields of Kern County, north of Los Angeles. The 390-megawatt plant would generate electricity by burning hydrogen made from petroleum coke, an oil-refinery byproduct. The facility is designed to capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide created in the process. The carbon dioxide would then be injected into Occidental Petroleum oilfields to increase oil production, which the companies say would cut 2 million tons of CO2 emissions per year.[1]

Hydrogen Energy has applied for the certification permit for the project. Construction is expected to begin in 2011.[2]

In February 2009, the California Public Utilities Commission ruled that Southern California Edison (SCE) cannot pass on to its customers the estimated $30 million in costs to join the project. SCE had proposed to charge higher electricity rates to cover the costs of the study. The CPUC suggested that SCE could be compensated after the study, and urged PG&E and Sempra Energy, owners of the state's other large utility companies, to participate in the project.[1]

In July 2009, the plant was awarded a grant of up to $308 million from the $787 billion federal stimulus package.[3] It is the largest grant to date from the Department of Energy's Clean Coal Power Initiative, as well as one of the single largest grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as a whole. Commenting on the federal grant, Lewis Gillies, CEO of Hydrogen Energy, said, "Both the DOE and Hydrogen Energy recognize that this project may become the model for new power generating facilities throughout the world."[4]

In September 2011 SCS Energy completed acquisition of the project from BP and Rio Tinto. In June 2013 the Draft Environmental Impact Statement was issued by the California Energy Commission and the US DOE. Commercial operation of the capture facilities is anticipated in 2019. The captured CO2 would be compressed and transported to the nearby Elk Hills oil field approximately 3 miles from the power plant where it would be used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR).[5]

Project Details

Sponsor: Hydrogen Energy, a joint venture of BP and Rio Tinto
Location: Kern County, CA
Capacity: 405 MW
Type: Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) with carbon capture and storage
Status: Pre-permit development
Projected in service: 2019


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  1. 1.0 1.1 "Calif. Electric Co. Denied On Clean Power Study," Reuters, February 23, 2009.
  2. "Hydrogen Energy California," Hydrogen Energy, accessed February 2009.
  3. "DOE provides stimulus cash for 'clean coal' plants," E&E News PM, July 1, 2009.
  4. Phil Taylor, "Stimulus Helps Bring Calif. Petcoke Plant Closer to Reality," Greenwire, July 20, 2009.
  5. "Hydrogen Energy California Project (HECA)," Global CCS Institute, accessed January 2015

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