To begin, the Kemper County energy facility has several different names. Aside from being coined the Kemper County Energy Facility, it is also referred to as the Kemper Project, the Kemper Coal Plant, Plant Ratcliffe, Southern Company Kemper County IGCC Plant, Kemper IGCC Project, Kemper County Lignite Facility, and Kemper IGCC. The Kemper County Energy Facility is located in Kemper County, Mississippi (approximately 20 miles north of Meridian.)
The Kemper County Energy Facility will demonstrate TRIG™ (Transport Integrated Gasification), a coal gasification process developed jointly by Southern Company and KBR in partnership with the US Department of Energy (DOE). TRIG™ was a 15 year plus development effort at the Power Systems Development Facility (PSDF) in Alabama (now the National Carbon Capture Center), where the technology operated successfully for over 20,000 hours at pilot scale. The Kemper County Energy Facility will utilize two commercial-scale TRIG™ units to gasify lignite, low-rank coal that is mined next to the facility, to produce syngas. After the syngas leaves the gasifiers, it will be cleaned and used to fuel two combined-cycle power generating units each with a net output of 582-megawatts of electricity.
Read more at Global CCS Institute.
Mississippi Power CEO Ed Holland explains:
“The lignite will be gasified and the resulting syngas will be burned to generate the electricity. The process will generate considerably lower amounts of CO2 and other emissions. The CO2 will be sold to companies like Denbury Resources for use in enhanced oil recovery operations, resulting in US $2 billion in revenues from CO2 sales over 40 years.”
A local blog puts the Kemper Project on the scale of global importance, mitigating potential conflicts over energy. The blog specifically points to Kemper’s use of local resources and the revolutionary Carbon Capture & Sequestration (CCS) technology:
The Kemper Coal Plant is crucial to the future of coal as a domestic energy resource. According to Jonathon Pershing, U.S. Department of Energy, “CCS technology is central to the continued reliance on coal for American power.” General Lawson, deputy commander in chief, Headquarters U.S. European Command, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany, cited that the potential impact of Kemper on global energy security and the ripple effect that success might have on obviating future global conflicts.
For many reasons but, the main reason is the need to deliver safe, reliable electricity for customers now and in the future. As older generating units are retired due to age or to achieve environmental regulations, the Kemper County energy facility will be the solution for delivering affordable electricity for years to come! The Kemper Coal Plant will be the first Mississippi Power baseload power plant (which produce energy at a constant, low cost rate) in over 30 years.
Lignite! Lignite is a yellow to dark brown (rarely black) coal that formed from peat at shallow depths and temperatures lower than 212 °F. Most lignite is geologically young, having formed during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras (approximately 251 million years ago to the present) and is the first product of coalification and is intermediate between peat and subbituminous coal.
About 79% of lignite is used to generate electricity, 13.5% is used to generate synthetic natural gas, and 7.5% is used to produce fertilizer products (anhydrous ammonia & ammonium sulfate).
Lignite is more accessible than other types of coal because lignite veins are located relatively near the surface, eliminating the need for underground excavation in tunnels. It is estimated that nearly half of the world’s total proven coal reserves are made up of lignite and subbituminous coal. Lignite generated energy is abundant, accessible and has many benefits including; low-cost, reliability, and environmental compatibility.
The Kemper Plant investment can be attributed to the need for a diverse energy portfolio. According to the investing company, Mississippi Power Company, Mississippi lignite will provide decades of low-cost fuel, avoiding massive price swings associated with unpredictable fuel markets. With a 4-billion-ton reserve in Mississippi, Mississippi Power Company can secure a stable fuel source while reducing dependence on foreign fuel.
A 4 billion ton reserve? To put that into perspective, a whale weighs about 1 ton. Because lignite is so abundant, it is predicted that Mississippi will benefit from this energy source for hundreds of years. The dome at the Kemper Plant holds up to 100,000 tons of lignite.
During the current construction phase, the Kemper plant has created approximately 12,000 direct and indirect local positions. Once operations begin, it is predicted that there will be three hundred permanent personnel. Employment at the plant provides an enormous economic boost to the state of Mississippi.
Craig Hitt, Kemper County Economic Development Authority executive director cited “properties have been purchased, properties have been leased, landowners, if they haven’t already, will see the benefits.”
Kemper County administrator Andrew Smith stated that the Kemper Plant has been “a blessing.” According to Smith, the county saw $8.12 million in tax revenue just from the plant. One-third of that went to the Kemper County School District, and the remaining percent benefits areas like road and bridge improvement, the recreational park, EMCC and taking care of past debt.
$75 million in state and local taxes are being generated during the construction phase and $30 million will be generated annually over the lifetime of the plant.
“Built for Mississippians, by Mississippians,” more than 500 Mississippi companies have a significant role in the construction phase of the Kemper Project.