U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he welcomes a global alliance to make fossil fuels cleaner instead of abandoning them amid a global renewable energy push.
Perry, the former governor of Texas, has championed an all-of-the-above energy strategy, encouraging development of all types of energy resources—including hydro and nuclear—to meet the world’s growing energy needs. As some countries push toward cleaner renewable energy sources, Perry believes fossil fuels will still be needed.
“We don’t have to choose between growing our economy and benefitting our environment. By embracing innovation over regulation we can benefit both,” he said March 7 at CERAWeek by IHS Markit in Houston.
During the morning keynote at CERAWeek, Perry touted the technological gains made by the oil and gas industry. Reducing emissions via carbon capture is among the focus areas for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), he said when asked by IHS Markit Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin about federal efforts.
Administered by the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, the Carbon Capture Program has undertaken R&D activities in advancing CO2 capture technologies that aim to lower the impact of CO2 capture on power-generating capacity, scale up CO2 capture technologies for full-scale deployment and improve the cost effectiveness of such technologies, according to the DOE’s website.
Perry mentioned that the U.S. has “worked with a number of our friends from the Middle East on carbon capture” and asked China to “put those technologies into their queue of technologies that are going to be going forward” during a clean energy ministerial meeting. The energy secretary was among the world’s energy leaders who gathered for a Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage Summit during the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2017 Ministerial Meeting in November. Boosting carbon capture and storage investment was deemed a goal by the IEA.
As worldwide efforts gain momentum, research efforts continue in the U.S.
The Office of Fossil Energy recently announced six projects, managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory, which will receive some $17.6 million in federal funding in their pursuit to lower CO2 capture cost and environmental penalties. Such efforts could prove beneficial for coal-fired power plants.
As described by the DOE, the projects are:
- Development and Bench-Scale Testing of a Novel Biphasic Solvent-Enabled Absorption Process for Post-Combustion Carbon Capture – The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois will advance the development of the transformational biphasic CO₂ absorption process technology;
- Bench-Scale Development of a Transformational Graphene Oxide-Based Membrane Process for Post-Combustion CO₂ Capture – Institute of Gas Technology dba Gas Technology Institute of Illinois will develop a transformational graphene oxide-based membrane process for installation in new, or retrofit into existing, pulverized coal or natural gas power plants;
- Development of Self-Assembly Isoporous Supports Enabling Transformational Membrane Performance for Cost-Effective Carbon Capture – Membrane Technology and Research Inc. of California will develop composite membranes with a transformational performance to reduce the cost of CO2 capture;
- Mixed-Salt-Based Transformational Solvent Technology for CO₂ Capture – SRI International of California will develop a water-lean, mixed-salt-based transformational solvent technology that will provide a step-change reduction in the CO2 capture cost and energy penalty;
- A Process with Decoupling Absorber Kinetics and Solvent Regeneration Through Membrane Dewatering and In-Column Heat Transfer – University of Kentucky Research Foundation is developing an intensified process to significantly reduce the capital and operational costs associated with CO2 capture and
- Flue Gas Aerosol Pre-Treatment Technologies to Minimize Post-Combustion CO₂ Capture Solvent Losses – Linde LLC of New Jersey will research, develop and validate enabling technologies for solvent aerosol emission mitigation of coal-based flue gas.
Perry said national labs are also working on battery storage.
“My prophecy for today is that we will attain that technology sooner rather than later and it will be because of the work that goes on in the Department of Energy’s National Energy Labs,” he said.
During Perry’s tenure as Texas governor from 2000 to 2015, the Lone Star State grew not only production of oil and gas but also production of wind and solar energy.
Speaking to Yergin a day earlier, Perry said Texas was very successful with its energy strategy and the state became the top wind energy-producing state in the U.S., producing more wind than all but five countries. At the same time there was a solar buildout that was “pretty substantial,” he said, adding strides have also since been made on the LNG side in Texas and other parts of the U.S. as exports grow.
The massive Petra Nova post-combustion carbon capture system project, which captures CO2 from NRG’s WA Parish plant in Fort Bend County, Texas, and transports it via pipeline for EOR at the West Ranch oil field, also came online in early 2017.
“Fossil fuels are going to continue to play a very important role in the quality of life for people around the globe. Africa is a great example of it and being able to develop those natural resources, be able to help people’s quality of life and do it in a way that is environmentally friendly,” Perry said. “We can do that in particularly with LNG and the gas and transforming from older, inefficient power plants to these cleaner burning plants. Economically, environmentally—it’s a win.”
Velda Addison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.