By Cassandra Sweet
The Shaw Group Inc. (SHAW) said Wednesday that it plans to invest up to $50.4 million in a new type of power-plant technology that captures carbon dioxide.
Shaw, of Baton Rouge, La., plans to buy up to half of the startup company that developed the technology, called Net Power LLC.
U.S. power giant Exelon Corp. (EXC), of Chicago, has agreed to help with permitting and marketing for the venture's first power plant, a 25-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant that will be located somewhere in or near the Gulf of Mexico region.
Net Power says the plant will capture all emissions, including carbon dioxide, and sell both the electricity the plant generates and the carbon dioxide it captures.
The CO2 will be sold to oil producers in an existing market for the gas, which is used to produce oil.
"This next-generation technology, which was invented and is being developed here in the United States, will be of great interest to both electricity-generating utilities, as well as oil recovery and exploration companies," Shaw Chairman and Chief Executive J.M. Bernhard Jr. said in a statement.
Net Power, of Durham, N.C., is among a handful of companies working to commercialize technologies that capture carbon dioxide at much lower cost than technologies that are currently available. The company says its technology doesn't need new climate rules or a price on carbon to be profitable.
The plant will use pure oxygen to burn gas to generate electricity in a process called "oxy combustion." When pure oxygen, rather than regular air, is used to burn natural gas, the process produces pure carbon dioxide and water.
After testing the technology on a smaller scale, the companies plan to develop a much larger commercial power plant using the technology in 2014 or 2015.
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