Forward Guidance: Anthony Summers on the Allam Cycle, Climate Change and the Future of Natural Gas
On this week’s episode of Forward Guidance, we’re joined by Anthony Summers, a Senior Research Analyst at The Oxford Club. Anthony is discussing one of his team’s most exciting findings. They’ve identified a consortium of small companies working on a new zero-emissions natural gas power technology called the Allam Cycle.
Anthony explains that the Allam Cycle is a solution to an important problem in the energy sector. It’s a way to manage the environmental impact of power plants without completely abandoning affordable fossil fuels.
In simple terms, it does this by recycling the emissions from burning natural gas. Anthony explains that a conventional power plant burns natural gas to heat water and drive steam turbines. The steam and emissions gasses are then released into the atmosphere.
But the Allam Cycle uses carbon dioxide itself to drive turbines – not steam. In Anthony’s words, it “takes away the middleman” in the power generation process. And this carbon dioxide can be recycled through the plant many times. Thus, an Allam Cycle power plant has no greenhouse gas emissions. Its only byproduct is clean water.
I then ask Anthony whether the Allam Cycle uses green energy subsidies like similar projects. He notes that Allam Cycle projects don’t need government subsidies – largely because they’re cheaper than almost all other carbon-capture and renewable energy technologies.
As Anthony says, most other carbon-capture projects involve adding new chemical or mechanical components to existing power plants – thus increasing their cost. By contrast, the Allam Cycle is an integrated power generation and carbon-capture system that was designed from scratch. Its costs are comparable to a regular gas power plant – but with none of the emissions.
According to Anthony, it’s difficult to invest directly in the development of this technology. But there are some “back doors” through which investors can buy a stake in it.
He goes on to explain that a consortium of small companies are building a small Allam Cycle power plant for demonstration purposes on the Texas coast – and that some of these companies can act as investments in the technology.
Finally, Anthony warns investors that this technology – if implemented successfully – could pose a threat to conventional renewable energy projects like wind and solar farms. As he puts it, “It’s very difficult to imagine that – within the next few decades – renewable energy is going to dominate the market.”
He explains that Allam Cycle power plants deliver the same kind of clean energy as wind and solar do – with none of the prohibitive costs.
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