Alphabet Energy provides remote energy to shale producers

By Patrick C. Miller | March 15, 2017

Alphabet Energy Inc. continues to make inroads to U.S. shale plays with its solid-state Power Generating Combustor (PGC) technology that uses flare gas to provide clean energy to remote locations.

Matt Scullin, CEO and founder of the company based in Hayward, California, said PGCs are now operating or soon will be operating on both a commercial and demonstration basis in the Niobrara, Marcellus and Eagle Ford shale plays.

“We’ve been really excited about our progress in places such as the upper Green River Basin in Wyoming in federal emissions non-attainment zones,” Scullin said. “The emissions reduction associated with a PGC can very valuable and the payback times can be very short.”

The PGCs incorporate Alphabet Energy’s solid-state, thermal-electric PowerModules to convert heat into electricity. A cap attached to the top of an enclosed flare captures high-temperature exhaust that passes through the PowerModules. Flare exhaust is converted into continuous electrical power while meeting on-site combustion requirements.

According to Alphabet Energy, the PGC generates up to 5 kilowatts of electricity—enough for most well pad operators to optimize production and ensure site safety. Follow-on versions of the system will be able to produce more than 10 kilowatts of electricity.

“We’ve been able to accumulate runtime on the PGC,” Scullin said. “We’ve shown that they operate very reliably and effectively through a range of real-world conditions.”

He said the operating experience has demonstrated that some customers using PGC units can see payback times in a matter of months based on their ability to offset pneumatic pumps and other pneumatic equipment that that can be replaced with an instrument air system or offset the power generation from electrical generation systems.

“In the Eagle Ford and the Utica-Marcellus where customers are using diesel generation sets or fuel cells or thermal electric generators, the PGC can generate even more power than those devices at a much lower cost,” Scullin said.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, Alphabet Energy received an Eagle Ford Excellence Award from the South Texas Energy Economic Roundtable (STEER). The awards honor companies and organizations working in or with the oil and gas industry for their efforts to protect the environment, make safety a top priority and give back to communities.

Scullin said Alphabet Energy has also sold PGC units to international customers.

“We’ve seen strong value proposition across multiple different fields in addressing the need for remote power,” he explained. “Remote power is where there are a lot of high costs associated with operating wells, and the PGC really helps to solve issues there.”