Oil giant BP and General Electric Co. announced plans yesterday to collaborate on a 250-megawatt coal-fired power plant that would employ integrated gasification technology and carbon dioxide capture in Southern California.

The plant, to be built near Bakersfield in oil-rich Kern County, is the result of a technology licensing agreement between GE Energy and Hydrogen Energy International, a joint venture of BP and mining giant Rio Tinto.

Integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) technology is in use at dozens of pilot projects worldwide, but commercialization is still several years away. GE's technology is being used at about 70 gasification plants worldwide, 40 of which are sequestering CO2.

The proposed plant would gasify petroleum coke, coal or a combination of the two, then send it through chemical scrubbers to filter out carbon dioxide. The gasified coal would power a turbine, while the CO2 would be piped to an adjacent oil field for sequestration and possible enhanced oil recovery. Up to 90 percent of the plant's CO2 emissions would be captured, company officials said.

BP and GE have plans for at least four more IGCC plants under a collaboration first announced in 2007. The Bakersfield plant will be their first.

Officials did not say when the plant would open or how much it would cost, but a paper released earlier this year by Hydrogen Energy and Harvard University put the cost of carbon capture at $120 to $180 per ton for IGCC plants (ClimateWire, July 21).

Kahn reported from San Francisco.