NRG Energy Inc. will shut down indefinitely the power source for what had been the only U.S. project capturing carbon from a coal-fired generator until it was idled last year, a spokesman said on Jan. 29.

The company notified the Texas grid operator, ERCOT, on Jan. 27 that the Petra Nova gas plant would be mothballed indefinitely effective June 26, according to a market notice.

"This was a decision we have been evaluating for some time," NRG spokesman Chris Rimel said in an email.

He added that the unit would be preserved in the event that the carbon capture system is some day restarted.


Problems Plagued US Carbon Capture Project Before Shutdown

Petra Nova's carbon capture project was seen as a major test of efforts to sequester planet-warming gases and store them below ground, a technology considered crucial to companies and governments hoping to fight climate change.

The plant was designed to capture a portion of the carbon emissions from the W.A. Parish coal plant, and pipe it 81 miles to the West Ranch oil field, where it would push more oil to the surface.

NRG idled the carbon capture facility in May of last year, however, saying a collapse in the price of oil prompted by the coronavirus pandemic had made it uneconomical.

The joint venture between NRG and Japan's JX Nippon received a $190 grant from the U.S. government but suffered chronic mechanical problems and routinely missed its targets before it was shut down.

A Department of Energy official was not immediately available for comment.