A $1 billion project to harness carbon dioxide emissions from a Texas coal plant suffered chronic mechanical problems and routinely missed its targets before it was shut down this year, according to a US Department of Energy report.
The Petra Nova plant’s performance was seen as a major test of emerging efforts to capture planet-warming gases and store them below ground, a technology considered crucial to companies and governments hoping to fight climate change.
The joint venture project between NRG Energy Inc and Japan’s JX Nippon had received a $190 million grant from the US government. Before being mothballed, it was the only US project capturing carbon from a coal-fired power plant.
Since Petra Nova started up in 2017, it suffered outages on 367 days, according to a Department of Energy technical report compiled in March. Issues with the carbon-capture facility accounted for more than a quarter of the outage days, followed by problems with the plant’s dedicated natural gas power unit, according to the report.
The facility also missed its carbon capture targets by about 17 per cent: It captured 3.8 million short tons of carbon dioxide during its first three years, shy of the 4.6 million short tons developers had expected.