Tenaska Inc. is developing a site near Sweetwater, Texas, for a new 765-MW gross, 600-MW net supercritical coal-fired power plant that will capture up to 90% of the CO2 in the stack gas. The captured CO2 will to be used in enhancing oil production in the Permian Basin. The proposed construction site for the $3 billion Trailblazer Energy Center is a 1,919-acre tract east of Sweetwater and north of Interstate 20 in Nolan County. Construction could begin in late 2009 and be completed in 2014 (Figure 1).

Carbon capture coal plant

1. First out of the gate. Tenaska has proposed the first coal-fired supercritical power plant with integrated CO2 capture. Source: Tenaska Inc.

If built, the plant will be the first new commercial coal-fueled power plant, other than small research projects, to capture and provide for storage of CO2. The CO2 would be captured and transported via pipeline to oil fields in the Permian Basin, where it will be used in enhanced oil recovery and be stored in the basin’s geologic formations. CO2 has been used to increase oil production in West Texas for more than 30 years (Figure 2).

new coal power plant

2 Bury it deep. Captured CO2 from the Trailblazer Energy Center will be used for enhanced oil recovery in the Permian Basin. Source: Tenaska Inc.

The volume of CO2 expected to be sold to oil producers could be used to recover enough oil to add more than $1 billion a year to the Texas economy.

“Nolan County is home to more wind turbines than any other place in the United States,” said Nolan County Judge Tim Fambrough. “The Tenaska Trailblazer Energy Center builds on this area’s reputation as a location for progressive, environmentally responsible electric generation. We are delighted to welcome Tenaska to our community.”

An air permit application, the first formal step in gaining approval to build the plant, was filed in early March with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, according to David Fiorelli, president and CEO of Tenaska’s Business Development Group.

The final decision to proceed with the project will be made in 2009 based on a number of factors, including the availability of local, state, and federal incentives; final project cost estimates; and projected market prices for electricity and CO2. Current estimates of these factors make the project appear to be economically feasible. In the meantime, Tenaska is working with Sweetwater area officials to determine the project’s feasibility and to provide accurate and timely information to Sweetwater area residents.

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