Carbon capture at aging U.S. coal plants has always been a long shot financially, and the outlook for such projects appears to be dimming as private investors look elsewhere and federal support for the technology wanes under the Biden administration.
None of the five proposals to retrofit coal plants with carbon capture technology in the U.S. has secured funding to construct the scrubbers, carbon absorbers and geologic storage sites needed to begin operating. Some analysts also warn that costs could escalate, ultimately leaving ratepayers and taxpayers responsible for runaway expenses should projects be abandoned.
The $1.4 billion carbon sequestration and storage facility planned for the 847-MW San Juan Generating Station in New Mexico, for example, is nearly two years behind schedule. Enchant Energy, the company championing the project, now says it will need a $906 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy and another $90 million in debt financing from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Services program to continue development.