In addition to the proposed Kemper County clean coal facility, MPC parent Southern Co. plans to build a transport integrated gasification (TRIG) facility in Dongguan, an industrial city in China’s Guangdong province.

In Sept. 2009, Beijing Guoneng Yinghui Clean Energy Engineering Co., Ltd., awarded Houston-based KBR a contract to provide licensing, engineering services and proprietary equipment for the implementation of KBR’s and Southern Co.’s TRIG technology at the plant

The 120-megawatt facility is slated begin operation in 2011. Initial plans do not include carbon capture technology, at least at first.

At the Dongguan facility, TRIG technology will be added to an existing gas turbine combined cycle plant so that it can use clean synthetic gas from coal as its fuel for generating electricity instead of fuel oil.

“China’s rapid growth vividly demonstrates the global need for advanced technologies to ensure reliable, affordable and cleaner supplies of energy,” Southern Co. chairman, president and CEO David Ratcliffe said in a release announcing the deal. “This plant will demonstrate that TRIG offers an effective technological solution to these challenges.”

TRIG technology is particularly well-suited for the type of low-grade coal typically found in China. The technology converts the coal into a synthetic gas, which is then burned as fuel.

Should the technology prove feasible, it could pave the way for future licensing deals with China, experts say.

“China sits on almost 500 billion tons of coal, and they’re going to use all of it,” said Jeff Schweitzer, former chief environmental officer at the State Department’s Agency for International Development during the George H.W. Bush administration and assistant director for international affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Clinton administration.

“There is a huge potential (for Southern) if the technology works,” he said.  “China is putting about two new coal-fired power plants online every week. It is an amazing ramp up of power generation.”

The company does run a risk of having its proprietary technology co-opted, however.

“The Chinese have a long history of inviting technology advances into the country and then wantonly and blatantly violating patents and intellectual property laws,” Schweitzer said. “it is very hard to protect against it.”


By Richard Slawsky I Contributing Writer


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