The world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility is officially up and running and has already captured 100,000 tons of carbon emissions at a coal plant in Texas.
US energy giant NRG Energy and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corporation announced yesterday that the Petra Nova project had been successfully completed “on-budget and on-schedule”, having started capturing emissions last September.
“Completion of the Petra Nova project is an important milestone in our quest to help ensure reliable, affordable and increasingly cleaner energy from fossil fuels,” said Mauricio Gutierrez, president and CEO of NRG Energy, in a statement. “This project represents another major step in NRG’s effort to reduce our carbon emissions and create a more sustainable energy future, and we are proud that this accomplishment was achieved on-budget and on-schedule in a competitive energy environment.”
The project represents another major breakthrough for the global CCS industry. However, it is unlikely to receive universal praise from green groups given the carbon emissions captured at the site are being pumped through an 80 mile pipeline to the West Ranch field where they are being used for enhanced oil recovery.
NRG Energy and JX Nippon, which delivered the $1bn project through a joint venture with additional backing from the US Department of Energy and a loan from the Japanese government, said performance testing had confirmed the project can capture up to 90 per cent of emissions from the coal plant. As a result it has the potential to capture 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide a day, equivalent to taking more than 350,000 cars off the road.
NRG said the project was part of its wider efforts to cut emissions 50 per cent by 2030 and 90 per cent by 2050, which has seen it invest heavily in renewable energy capacity and the switch from coal to gas power plants.
However, critics will note that in partnership with Hilcorp Energy Company, the operator of West Ranch oilfield, the project is expected to increase oil production at the field from 300 barrels a day to up to 15,000 barrels a day.