Princeton, N.J., September 25, 2009 – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has confirmed that NRG Energy, Inc.’s Somerset Station plasma gasification project will proceed into the due diligence phase of the DOE Loan Guarantee Program.
NRG is requesting a $158 million loan guarantee for this renewable technology project, which will use up to 35 percent eligible, or Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection-approved, biomass and if permitted, up to 100 percent eligible biomass.
The proposed 112-MW repowering project would provide enough electricity to support approximately 100,000 homes in southeast Massachusetts.
Upon successful completion of detailed due diligence by the DOE and loan structure negotiations, the Somerset plasma project would receive a loan guarantee under the DOE Loan Guarantee Program. NRG also is seeking to bring in additional equity investors for the project.
To retrofit Somerset Station, the existing 108 MW-power plant would be redesigned with new Westinghouse plasma gasification technology that will use solid biomass (such as green wood) and coal feedstock. This feedstock would be heated to a very high temperature, producing a clean synthesis gas which is then combusted in the plant’s boiler. The process reduces sulfur dioxide emissions by over 95 percent, mercury emissions by over 95percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by over 60percent.
Once built, this project would be the first large-scale use of plasma gasification for the production of electricity in the United States – a process developed by Westinghouse Plasma Corporation of Madison, P.A. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Alter NRG Corp. of Alberta, Canada) and demonstrated at commercial scale by Hitachi Metals in Utashinai, Japan.