* Conventional coal-fired plant will capture CO2 emissions
* Engineering, financing needed before construction begins
HOUSTON Dec 14 Texas regulators voted to grant
an air permit on Tuesday to Tenaska's $3.5 billion Trailblazer
Energy Center, a clean-coal power plant to be built 180 miles
(291 km) west of Dallas.
Plans call for the 600-megawatt plant to capture 85 to 90
percent of its carbon dioxide emissions for use in enhanced oil
recovery operations in Texas' Permian Basin oil fields.
The plant design will minimize other pollutants and utilize
dry-cooling technology to significantly reduce its water use.
"Tenaska is proud to be leading the way, not only in the
United States but across the globe, to commercialize this
proven technology that can help provide the clean energy the
world is seeking in a cost-effective way," said David Fiorelli,
Tenaska Development president, in a statement.
While the permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental
Quality (TCEQ) is a key step, Tenaska said it must complete
engineering and design studies, find financing and buyers for
the plant's electric and CO2 output before the five-year
construction period begins.
Omaha-based Tenaska said it also plans to secure additional
state and federal incentives for carbon capture and storage
Trailblazer has been awarded a $7.7 million grant from the
Australia-based Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute,
Arch Coal Inc ACI.N has a 35-percent interest in
Trailblazer and will supply Powder River Basin coal to the
plant for 20 years.
Earlier this year, the Environmental Defense Fund dropped
its opposition in the TCEQ permit case after Tenaska agreed to
limit water use and to sequester most CO2 produced by the
TCEQ's action to grant the permit was praised by coal
"We believe the early adoption of this technology in
Sweetwater will lead to the widespread deployment of CCS around
the world," said Darrick Eugene, general counsel for the Texas
Carbon Capture and Storage Association.
The commission took "a step in the right direction because
it ensures that Texas will develop and invest in more advanced
clean-coal technologies," said Mike Nasi, general counsel for
the Clean Coal Technology Foundation of Texas.
Trailblazer's use of post-combustion carbon capture
technology -- equipment that captures the CO2 located on the
back-end of the facility -- "will be of great interest to
utilities who may be interested in retrofitting carbon capture
technology on existing coal-fueled power plants," said Eugene.
Tenaska is also working to build an integrated gasification
combined cycle (IGCC) plant in Illinois that will convert
Illinois coal into synthetic natural gas which will be used to
produce electricity. The Taylorville plant is expected to be
able to capture about 50 percent of its CO2 emissions.
(Reporting by Eileen O'Grady;editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)