Southern Co., KBR promoting coal for electricity generation

Energy provider Southern Co. and Houston-based KBR are working together to use clean coal technology for power generation around the world.

The companies said Monday that under a partnership they have formed they will contribute technical and marketing expertise to expand such technology globally.

The coal technology is called Transport Integrated Gasification.

Finding cheaper, cleaner and more bountiful ways of producing electricity and other forms of energy are increasingly a part of the conversation surrounding U.S. energy policy.

Southern Co., which owns power companies in the South, is based in Atlanta. KBR is a global engineering, construction and services company supporting the energy, hydrocarbons, government services, minerals, civil infrastructure, power, industrial, and commercial markets.

The companies said the technology can provide power companies an efficient means to generate electricity using coal, while reducing carbon emissions.

“We’ve found a way to preserve coal as an important, low-carbon energy resource for America,” said Thomas Fanning, Southern Co.’s chief executive officer.

In a statement, the companies said that more than half of the world’s coal reserves consist of low-rank coal, such as lignite and sub-bituminous coal – the types that the technology they are marketing was developed to utilize. China and India are big users of electricity that is generated by coal, the statement said.

Southern Co. subsidiary Mississippi Power is using the technology as the basis for its integrated gasification combined cycle facility under construction in Kemper County, Miss.

Through the deal with Southern Co., KBR has acquired exclusive global licensing rights for power generation in addition to its existing rights in industrial applications of Transport Integrated Gasification technology. Prior to the agreement, the two companies licensed the technology to the Tian Ming Electric Power Co. for a facility under construction in China.