Shell and Partners Begin Fuel Cell Study for Offshore Applications
Jeroen van der Veer, Vice Chairman of the Committee of Managing Directors of Shell, has announced the launch of a project in Norway to explore possible large-scale applications of new zero-emission solid oxide fuel cell technology driven by natural gas.
Shell has signed an agreement with Aker Kvaerner and Statkraft to launch the project. A project team from the three companies will perform a pilot study to explore the technology's potential on a technical and commercial basis more closely. Shell and its partners aim to complete the project by 2010 and intend to become the first in the world to develop and commercialize large-scale, multi-megawatt fuel cells of this type.
"Should we be successful, an important application of the technology may be powering offshore oil and gas platforms," said Mr van der Veer in a speech to the World Hydrogen Energy Congress in Montreal. "These platforms are often far from land and have their own power systems. Fuel cells offer an elegant way to replace today's gas turbines. They offer high efficiencies and using Shell's own technology, the potential to separate and sequester carbon dioxide in reservoirs below the seabed."
This project to develop and commercialize multi-megawatt fuel cells by 2010 is expected to require an investment of $125 million. The largest fuel cells in the world today have outputs of only a few hundred kilowatts.
The technology to 'capture' carbon dioxide has been developed by Shell Hydrogen in consultation with Siemens Westinghouse. The concept consists of an arrestor system and afterburner, which produces outputs of high purity carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide could then be sequestered or used to service smaller carbon dioxide markets such as fish farms. Siemens Westinghouse is currently building a small-scale fuel cell unit for Shell aimed at demonstrating the zero emission concept in Norway.