Amid growing international interest in carbon capture and storage (CCS) this year, an apparent high-profile setback for the technology came in May, with the mothballing of NRG’s Petra Nova facility in Texas – a coal-based project which represents the world’s largest installation of CO2 capture on a power plant.
Like nearly all CCS projects operating today, Petra Nova relied on using CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), and was therefore hit hard by plummeting oil prices in the wake of the Covid-induced slump in demand.
The closure continued to generate headlines throughout the summer, as CCS sceptics sought to interpret it as a death knell for future projects. Most notably, a report by the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) – a US-based group active in campaigning against fossil fuels – labelled Petra Nova’s woes as a “red flag for investors on coal-fired CCS projects”.
Firmly in IEEFA’s sights are a proposed wave of new projects in the US, driven by the expanded 45Q tax credit, which will compensate plant owners at up to $50 per tonne of CO2 they store.