Bechtel’s Latest Bridge: Low-Carbon Natural Gas
The expense and inefficiency of capturing carbon emissions from gas-fired power plants may no longer be a barrier to using the cheap, abundant fuel as a step in reaching both global development and climate targets.
“At Bechtel, we are actively looking for ways to reduce the cost of carbon capture,’’ John Gulen, a senior principal engineer at Bechtel, said at the Concordia Summit in New York on Tuesday. Gulen spoke at a session addressing private companies’ role in achieving the U.N.’s sustainable development goals, which include affordable and clean energy. Bechtel, a closely-held engineering and construction firm, has built both of the integrated gasification combined cycle plants operating at commercial scale in the U.S.
Bechtel is awaiting approval of a patent on a carbon-capture technology that may slash the specific capital cost of generating electricity with gas turbines by as much as 35 percent, Gulen said.
The U.S. and 27 other countries have agreed to take action to limit the increase in global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius. Eliminating the entire fleet of coal-powered plants in the U.S. would amount to a tiny reduction in atmospheric carbon, having a negligible effect on global temperatures. But systems may soon be available to remove 80 percent of the carbon emitted from gas, an achievement that can have a very significant impact on providing clean power to transform the livelihoods of developing countries without imperiling climate goals.