October 25, 2007
SOMERSET, Mass. – Dominion’s Brayton Point Power Station will become the site of a large-scale demonstration project that is designed to convert biomass, coal and petroleum coke into separate streams of natural gas and carbon dioxide. The project could be an important step toward cost-effectively ensuring the nation’s energy supply and ultimately helping coal-fired power stations deal with the greenhouse gas issue.
GreatPoint Energy of Cambridge, Mass., has agreed to construct the demonstration facility and a research and development center at Brayton Point to test further the commercial capability of its proprietary technology for manufacturing low-cost natural gas. In addition to pipeline-quality natural gas, the process produces a separate stream of sequestration-ready carbon dioxide – which is facing growing governmental regulation because of global-warming concerns – and captures mercury, sulfur and other pollutants.
"We are extremely pleased that GreatPoint Energy has chosen Dominion and Brayton Point to host the further testing of this highly promising technology," said Mark F. McGettrick, president and chief executive officer of Dominion Generation. "The potential of this project to solve two major problems − making America more energy independent and reducing emissions of carbon dioxide – cannot be ignored."
About half of the electricity produced in the United States comes from coal-fired power stations. The United States has been called the "Saudi Arabia of coal" because of its vast supplies. Finding a way to economically and reliably convert these reserves to natural gas and capture a significant portion of the carbon dioxide emissions could have a major impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping to decrease the need for imported energy.
"This technology has the potential to help provide a ‘missing link’ in terms of solving air emissions issues at coal-fired power plants," McGettrick said. "As Dominion has demonstrated, there are proven and commercially available technologies that will sharply reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and particulates. But thus far there has not been any commercially proven way to separate carbon dioxide as a first step toward capturing and sequestering those emissions. This technology could make it possible."
Dominion also is investing to help solve another part of the carbon puzzle, the permanent storage or "sequestering" of carbon dioxide emissions. It is sponsoring research at Virginia Tech to see if it is possible to sequester carbon dioxide in coal seams in Southwest Virginia.
Brayton Point is New England’s largest fossil-fueled power station, with a total net summer capability of 1,568 megawatts. Located about 30 miles south of Boston and 13 miles east of Providence, R.I., it is capable of burning coal, natural gas and oil. Dominion acquired Brayton Point in 2005 along with two other power stations, Salem Harbor in Salem, Mass., and Manchester Street in Providence.
Dominion is in the process of investing about $600 million at Brayton as part of a $3.1 billion company-wide commitment to improve substantially environmental performance at its operations. Investments at Brayton include an ash recovery system that offsets about 170,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year and reduces landfill needs. Other equipment has been or is being installed by Dominion to reduce significantly sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury emissions.
Construction of the GreatPoint Energy demonstration project is expected to begin later this year with operations commencing in 2008. Dominion will be providing the site and operational assistance.
"Brayton Point plays a vital role in keeping the lights on and businesses running in this part of New England," McGettrick said. "Today’s announcement means it may have an even greater role in ensuring that America has clean and dependable electricity for generations to come."
Dominion (NYSE: D), headquartered in Richmond, Va., is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy. It has a portfolio of more than 26,500 megawatts of generation, 7,800 miles of natural gas transmission pipeline and 1 trillion cubic feet equivalent (Tcfe) of proved natural gas and oil reserves. Dominion also owns and operates the nation's largest underground natural gas storage system, with about 960 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves retail energy customers in 11 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's Web site at http://www.dom.com.
GreatPoint Energy, Inc. is the leading developer of catalytic gasification technology to convert coal, petroleum coke and biomass into natural gas. Utilizing its proprietary conversion and carbon capture technology, GreatPoint Energy produces ultra-clean natural gas from widely abundant domestic feedstocks. Bluegas™, GreatPoint Energy’s natural gas product, meets all environmental requirements and can be transported throughout North America by existing pipeline infrastructure, delivering an effective alternative to drilled and imported natural gas. GreatPoint Energy was founded by Andrew Perlman, Avi Goldberg and Aaron Mandell; entrepreneurs who have been building successful technology companies for the past decade. The company has raised over $137 million of capital and includes as its investors: venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Advanced Technology Ventures and Khosla Ventures; financial investors such as Sustainable Development Investments, unit of Citi Alternative Investments (a division of Citi); and strategic investors Suncor Energy, Inc., The Dow Chemical Company and The AES Corporation. The company is headquartered in Cambridge, MA with pilot and engineering facilities in Des Plaines, IL. For additional information, please visit http://www.greatpointenergy.com.
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