The article below appears in The Daily Energy publication.
In an agreement that could lead to broad commercialization of Southern Co.’s proprietary coal gasification technology, the Atlanta-based utility this week signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s Shenhua Group to collaborate in the further research, development and deployment of clean coal technologies in the United States, China and around the world.
The MOU calls for Southern and Shenhua—one of China’s largest integrated energy companies and one of the largest energy companies in the world—to collaborate in coordination with other private companies, research institutions, the U.S. government and various Chinese authorities.
According to a Southern spokesman, the utility’s Transport Integrated Gasification (TRIG) technology—the technology being deployed at Southern subsidiary Mississippi Power Co.’s integrated gasification combined cycle power plant in Kemper County, Miss.—is central to this technical partnership.
Developed by Southern and Houston-based engineering firm KBR LLC with support from the Energy Department to reduce carbon and other pollution from plants fueled with low-rank lignite coal, TRIG can cut power plant carbon dioxide emissions to levels comparable to those of a natural gas plant.
Southern’s agreement with Shenhua Group effectively is an endorsement of the technology by the Chinese energy powerhouse, and could lead to wide deployment of TRIG-equipped power plants across Asia, which is expected to add more than 400,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity by 2035 and has abundant low-rank coal.
Southern and KBR announced in October 2012 they had formed an alliance to market TRIG to power companies worldwide. KBR acquired exclusive global licensing rights for power generation in addition to its existing rights in industrial applications of TRIG.
Prior to that announcement, Southern and KBR licensed TRIG to the Tian Ming Electric Power Co. for a facility under construction in China.