Arnie's green friend

BP has polished its green credentials—and pleased Arnold Schwarzenegger—by announcing plans for a revolutionary hydrogen-fuelled power plant in California costing $1-billion.

The facility will be able to generate electricity with almost no carbon emissions by converting the waste product of oil refineries into hydrogen and separating off carbon dioxide for capture and storage.

Although some environmentalists remain sceptical about the unproven process, known as carbon sequestration, many see it as an acceptable compromise in the battle against global warming.

Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California, said the plant was a “perfect fit’’ for his policies for the United States West Coast state.

The scheme mirrors one announced last June in Scotland when BP said it would construct a hydrogen plant at Peterhead to separate natural gas from CO2. The £350-million project involves reinjecting the greenhouse gas into the Miller oil field in the North Sea to help flush out more hydrocarbons, before being stored there.

The greenhouse gases from the Los Angeles plant are expected to be taken by pipeline to oil fields being developed in California. Instead of natural gas, as at Peterhead, the US plant will take petroleum coke produced as a by-product of oil refining.

Currently, the waste coke is exported to China as fuel. The hydrogen plant would capture about 90% of the CO2 produced and generate 500mW of power, powering 325 000 homes.

In November BP launched plans to invest up to $8-billion over the next 10 years to create a low carbon power business. It aims to produce revenues of $6-billion as the company also invests in solar and wind power.—Â



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