Ground broken on emission-free, gas power plant near Houston

Construction launched Wednesday on a first-of-its kind, natural gas power plant near Houston that won’t have any air emissions.

The 25-megawatt pilot project in La Porte focuses on new technology that will send the carbon dioxide into a sequestration pipeline. The carbon emissions can then be stored or used for industrial purposes or enhanced oil recovery.

The pilot power plant, which will still connect to the Texas grid, is developed by Net Power, which is a collaboration of Chicago-based Exelon Corp., The Woodlands’ CB&I and North Carolina-based 8 Rivers Capital technology commercialization firm. Much of the equipment is manufactured by Toshiba.

Exelon and CB&I are leading the funding for the $140 million project. If proven successful, the idea is to start building larger, 295-megawatt power plants that would represent the next generation of cleaner-burning, natural gas plants.

“Net Power is the first technology that allows policy and economics to work together, instead of against each other, to ensure the world meets our climate targets,” said Net Power CEO Bill Brown in a prepared statement Wednesday. “Today marks a significant step for our world-class team … towards delivering a technology that will be the cornerstone of a modern global energy infrastructure that is clean, affordable and flexible.”

The power plant will utilize a thermodynamic cycle technology, called the Allam cycle after its lead inventor, to generate cleaner power from fossil fuels. The idea is to build environmentally friendly power plants from scratch, rather than financing costly carbon capture projects to make existing coal plants cleaner.

The project is expected to come online in 2017.