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    Pair in plan to convert NM coal generator to blue hydrogen


Project will sequester 1.5mn mt/year of carbon

by: Dale Lunan

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Pair in plan to convert NM coal generator to blue hydrogen

Newpoint Gas and Brooks Energy announced April 14 a technology collaboration to create Escalante H2 Power and acquire and convert a retired coal-fired generating station in New Mexico to run on hydrogen.

Located in McKinley County, NM, the Escalante power plant has two key features which make it suitable for conversion to blue hydrogen, Newpoint Gas CEO Wiley Rhodes told NGW. The first is that it is located next to a pair of interstate natural gas pipelines, providing a ready source of gas; the second is that it sits above geological formations that offer “ample” CO2 sequestration capacity.

“Having those two things makes a lot possible,” Rhodes said. “We will take natural gas and run it through either a steam methane reformer or an auto reformer, create the hydrogen pre-combustion, capture the carbon and sequester it right there and use the hydrogen to fire the boilers for the generating station.”

The capacity of the 253 MW coal-fired generating station will be reduced to 216 MW because of the lower heat-energy content of hydrogen, compared to coal, he added. But it will produce zero-carbon, dispatchable power, and the carbon capture and storage (CCS) component will qualify for the federal 45Q tax credit of $50/mt of CO2 sequestered.

New Mexico’s Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association retired Escalante in August 2020. Escalante H2 Power has signed a letter of intent with Tri-State to acquire the facility.

About 78mn ft3/day of natural gas will be reformed, creating 160mn ft3/day of hydrogen to fuel the power plant and about 1.5mn mt/yr of CO2 for sequestration.

Newpoint Gas will license its modular CCS design technology to Escalante H2 Power, while Brooks Energy will contribute its carbon sequestration expertise. Capital cost of the project is estimated at $250mn, Rhodes said.