- NRG Energy announced it is teaming up with JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp, a Japanese firm, to start capturing the CO2 emissions at one its Texas coal plants.
- Called the Petra Nova Carbon Capture Project, the $1-billion project will take the captured gas and pump it to an oil field 82 miles away. It will then be used to push crude oil out of the field's reservoir, boosting daily oil production to 15,000 barrels, up from 500.
- NRG and JX Nippon will get half of the oil produced at the West Ranch oil field, which they say will pay for the project.
Carbon capture is an expensive thing for a utility to do: This project requires a coal unit retrofit, a new pipeline to pump the gas and a 75-MW plant just to power the technology. But NRG appears keen to use this project as a test for other plants, with chief executive officer David Crane citing two other plants that could see the installation of similar technology. The Petra Nova project should come online by the end of 2016.
Carbon capture has the potential to cut harmful carbon dioxide emissions at existing coal plants, which could help them stay running for longer and forego the need for new generation. But with the cost of solar and natural gas plants falling, that may not continue to be a cost effective option.
A similar case is being played out in Mississippi, where Southern Co.'s carbon capture plant project is under way, now running at a cost of $5.5 billion. NRG hopes that their costs will be recovered by selling the oil it will generate. "The economics are being driven by the value of the oil recovered," said Arun Banskota, president of the project.