The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $890 million for three large-scale carbon capture demonstration projects in the power sector.

Each project aims to demonstrate integrated carbon capture, transport and storage technologies and infrastructure that can be deployed at power plants. However, the technologies and environments are different. In this case, three novel solvents would be demonstrated and combined with carbon transport and storage in different geological settings.

Funding for the projects – in California, North Dakota and Texas – comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed in 2021.

The Biden Administration believes the large-scale deployment of carbon capture, transport and storage infrastructure could play a vital role in reducing emissions in the U.S. For more than a decade the federal government has provided financial support to boost the development and use of technologies for capturing CO2 emissions.

But in the last couple of years, legislation has significantly increased annual funding for these efforts. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, formally known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, provides $8.2 billion in advance appropriations for CCS programs over the 2022–2026 period, according to a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report.

Proponents say carbon capture could have a huge role in reducing emissions, while many environmentalists note the technology is far from scale and argue that focusing on it distracts from renewable energy solutions.

According to the CBO report, 15 CCS facilities are currently operating in the U.S. Together, they have the capacity to capture 0.4 percent of the nation’s total annual CO2 emissions.

The report notes an additional 121 CCS facilities are under construction or in development. If all were completed, they would increase the nation’s CCS capacity to 3 percent of current annual CO2 emissions.

Here are the three projects selected for award negotiation: 

Baytown Carbon Capture and Storage Project

The Baytown Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Project plans to capture CO2 from the Baytown Energy Center, a natural gas combined-cycle plant in Baytown, Texas. The project would use Shell’s CANSOLV solvent to capture CO2, which would be transported through new and existing pipelines and sequestered in storage sites on the Gulf Coast.

Calpine is serving as the lead for the Baytown CCS project and Covestro, an industrial manufacturer of plastics, will serve as the project’s primary power off-taker. Calpine expects the project will capture up to 2 million metric tons of CO2 per year

The project is also considering the use of greywater cooling to minimize freshwater consumption by reusing wastewater, according to DOE.

The 896 MW Baytown Energy Center provides steam and power to the adjacent Covestro chemicals manufacturing facility as well as power to the Texas electric grid.

Calpine said adding post-combustion carbon capture equipment to this facility would reduce the carbon dioxide emissions intensity of two of its three combustion turbines at a design capture rate of 95%.

Calpine has a total of 11 CCS projects in its pipeline.  

In July 2022 the company unveiled a carbon capture demonstration pilot project at its combined-cycle plant in Pittsburg, California. The CCS project at Calpine’s Los Medanos Energy Center will use a chemical solvent developed by ION Clean Energy to bind with carbon dioxide in the plant’s flue gas.

In the case of this pilot, the project will not store the captured carbon and instead release it back into atmosphere. However, in future plants, the CO2 could be pumped and stored underground.

Project Tundra

Project Tundra is a carbon capture system to be developed adjacent to the Milton R. Young Station, a coal-fired plant near Center, North Dakota. The project plans to use Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ KS-21 solvent to capture CO2, which would be permanently stored in saline geologic formations beneath and surrounding the power plant. The storage site has already been approved for a Class VI well permit.

Project Tundra is being developed by project sponsors which include Minnkota Power Cooperative and TC Energy. The project is expected to capture an annual average of 4 million metric tons of CO2.

Minnkota said it plans to retrofit the coal-fired plant’s 430 MW Unit 2 to capture up to 90% of its CO2 emissions. Unit 2 is a cyclone-fired wet bottom boiler from Babcock & Wilcox.

MHI will collaborate on the CO2 capture facility with Kiewit, which will construct the project.

Project Tundra is receiving up to $350 million.

Sutter Decarbonization Project

The Sutter Decarbonization Project plans to demonstrate and deploy a carbon capture system at the Sutter Energy Center, a 550 MW combined-cycle plant near Yuba City, California. The project would use ION’s ICE-21 solvent to capture the CO2 and sequester it permanently more than a half a mile underground in saline geologic formations.

This project would be the first in the world to deploy an air-cooling system at a carbon capture facility, which will eliminate the use of cooling water and significantly minimize freshwater usage—a critical concern of the local community.

The Sutter Decarbonization Project will receive up to $270 million. Sutter CCUS (a subsidiary of Calpine) is developing the project.  

Funding applicants were required to submit Community Benefits Plans, intended to spur community and labor engagement in carbon management technologies while addressing environmental burdens in partnership with surrounding communities.

DOE estimates that reaching the current administration’s plan for a net-zero emissions economy would require capturing and storing between 400 million and 1.8 billion metric tons of CO2 annually by 2050. The power sector accounts for more than a quarter of U.S. carbon emissions.

According to the CBO report, the future adoption of carbon capture and storage depends on a variety of factors, like changes in the cost to capture CO2, the availability of pipeline networks and storage capacity for transporting and storing CO2, federal and state regulatory decisions and the development of clean energy technologies that could affect the demand for CCS.

DOE said it will host a national briefing on Dec. 18 to share more information about the selected projects. A period of stakeholder engagement will then take place starting in January. 

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