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Hydrogen Energy California

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This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

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]

Project Details

Sponsor: Hydrogen Energy, a joint venture of BP and Rio Tinto
Location: Kern County, CA
Capacity: 390 MW
Type: Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) with carbon capture and storage
Projected in service: 2016
Status: Proposed


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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.

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