The first operational U.S. “clean coal” plant could end up increasing carbon dioxide emissions, calling into question the hundreds of millions of dollars the Obama administration has spent on such projects.
The Petra Nova coal plant will use carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to remove 90 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power generation and pipe it to nearby oil fields.
The $1 billion Petra Nova facility outside Houston got $190 million from the Energy Department to help meet President Barack Obama’s global warming goals by reducing the amount of CO2 coal-fired power plants emit.
Some quick calculations reveal the Petra Nova project may actually result in the technology emitting more CO2 than is saved. How’s that possible?
Petra Nova’s CCS equipment reportedly removes 90 percent of the CO2 from coal combusted to generate electricity.
A NRG Energy and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corporation press release claims “Petra Nova can capture more than 5,000 tons of CO2 per day which is the equivalent of taking more than 350,000 cars off the road.”
That CO2 will be piped to oil fields to the West Ranch oil field field where it will be used for enhanced oil recovery. NRG and JX Nippon claims that “oil production at the field is currently estimated to increase from approximately 300 barrels per day … to production of up to 15,000 barrels per day using captured CO2.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates a barrel of oil contains the equivalent of 0.47 tons of CO2.
That means West Ranch would extract 7,050 tons of CO2 if it meets its 15,000-barrel-per-day potential using enhanced oil recovery.
Petra Nova would capture 5,000 tons of CO2 per day only to help produce 7,000 tons per day of CO2 in crude oil.
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