From the Blog

Cleaner Coal Plants:
Two New Approaches

Last week the Petra Nova coal plant came online just outside of Houston, TX. The plant captures carbon dioxide from the process of coal combustion and then pipes it from the plant to the West Ranch oil field 80 miles away, where the carbon dioxide is used to force additional oil from the ground. Energy firms NRG Energy and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp. say that the plant can capture over 90 percent of the carbon dioxide released from a 240 megawatt coal plant.
Petra Nova coal plant in Houston, Texas

Five hundred miles away in Meridian, Mississippi, another type of cleaner coal plant is almost fully completed; however, it approaches the issue with a different process. The Kemper Plant, operated by Mississippi Power, is expected to be operational later this month. This plant will turn a specific type of coal (lignite) into a gas (syngas) and strip out some carbon dioxide in the process. The gas is burned for electricity and the CO2 is then again shipped to an oil field to aid in additional oil recovery.

The main difference in these technologies of capturing carbon is that one occurs after the coal has been burned, or “post-combustion,” whereas the other happens “pre-combustion.”

The US Department of Energy, which has provided grants for both of these plants, celebrated the opening of Petra Nova. “As the world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture system, the Petra Nova project confirms that carbon capture and storage technologies can play a critical role in ensuring the nation’s energy security and providing good jobs for American workers, all while helping us reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants,” said Christopher Smith, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy.