Power plants have a long history of conflicting public connotations. Back in the 1950s-1990s, when most of today's power plants were constructed, designs were praised as efficient energy production. But growing evidence of human-induced climate change has shifted public perception.
With power plant development comes a growth in technology, namely, power generation.
The two most common fuel sources for US power plants are coal-power and nuclear-power, the latter having a substantially lower environmental impact. Currently, steam turbines are the most popular energy-generating turbine, accounting for around 45% of total energy generation.
"In a turbine generator
, a moving fluid—water, steam, combustion gasses, or air—pushes a series of blades mounted on a rotor shaft. The force of the fluid on the blades spins/rotates the rotor shaft of a generator. The generator, in turn, converts the mechanical (kinetic) energy of the rotor to electrical energy. Different types of turbines include steam turbines, combustion (gas) turbines, hydroelectric turbines, and wind turbines."
An Ambitious Project
One company recently announced a multi-billion-dollar investment into a slew of alternative energy power plants, the first being installed off the Gulf of Texas.
Chilean company Highly Innovative Fuels (HIF) Global SpA first made headlines with Haru Oni, the "world's first integrated, commercial, industrial-scale plant for making synthetic climate-neutral fuels" located in the Chilean region Magellanes.
The project includes a large platform that generates hydrogen power using wind energy, electrolysis, and direct capture of atmospheric carbon emissions.
What results is a carbon-neutral e-fuel that can "replace fossil fuels in today's industries, cars, ships, and planes, with no modifications required, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% compared to fossil fuels."
This isn't the company's only advancement toward a decarbonized future. Reports suggest their United States division is eyeing a similar concept near the Gulf of Texas, Project Helix.
Project Helix will model that of Haru Oni, reports stating the benefits will:
- "Add 15 GW of renewable electricity to Texas capacity
- Produce 900 million kilograms per year of Green Hydrogen
- Capture CO2 of approximately 6 million tonnes per year
- Produce 600 million gallons per year of eFuels
- Convert 1 million vehicles to carbon neutral."
If all goes as planned, the Texas power plant will cost around $6 billion and enter commercial-scale operations by 2025.
Hydrogen fuel is unique alternative energy, technically an energy carrier. Because of this, the fuel source used in conjunction with hydrogen can vary from coal to renewables.
Hydrogen is classified under a specific color depending on the fuel source. For example, hydrogen produced using lignite coal is considered brown hydrogen, the most environmentally damaging.
HIF's power plant will produce green hydrogen, one of the more environmentally friendly outcomes. Green hydrogen is derived from renewable energy like wind power.
HIF's advances in eco-friendly power plants are helping improve public perception of the possibilities regarding these structures. The company's impressive accomplishments and goals could put a nice dent in atmospheric emissions.
The company won't likely stop with Texas, especially when the infrastructure proves beneficial. An array of similar concepts could spread globally, providing carbon-neutral energy to surrounding areas and autonomy and independence to nations that rely on other countries for energy generation, all without adversely affecting the environment.