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Energy & Environment

NRG’s Petra Nova Carbon Capture Plant Officially Inaugurated

Speakers included U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

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  • U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry speaks at the valve turning ceremony for the Petra Nova carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery system on Thursday, April 13, 2017, in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston.  (Photo Credit: Paul Ladd/AP Images for Reliant)
    U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry speaks at the valve turning ceremony for the Petra Nova carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery system on Thursday, April 13, 2017, in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston. (Photo Credit: Paul Ladd/AP Images for Reliant)
  • On Thursday, April 13, 2017, in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, a valve turning ceremony was completed with (from left to right): Consulate General of Japan Tetsuro Amano, Hilcorp Energy CEO Jeffery D. Hildebrand, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, NRG Energy CEO Mauricio Gutierrez, JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration CEO Shunsaku Miyake, Fort Bend County Commissioner Vincent Morales, Jr., U.S. Congressman Pete Olson.   (Photo Credit: Paul Ladd/AP Images for Reliant))
    On Thursday, April 13, 2017, in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, a valve turning ceremony was completed with (from left to right): Consulate General of Japan Tetsuro Amano, Hilcorp Energy CEO Jeffery D. Hildebrand, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, NRG Energy CEO Mauricio Gutierrez, JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration CEO Shunsaku Miyake, Fort Bend County Commissioner Vincent Morales, Jr., U.S. Congressman Pete Olson. (Photo Credit: Paul Ladd/AP Images for Reliant))
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at the valve turning ceremony for the Petra Nova carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery system on Thursday, April 13, 2017, in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston.  (Photo Credit: Paul Ladd/AP Images for Reliant)
    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at the valve turning ceremony for the Petra Nova carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery system on Thursday, April 13, 2017, in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston. (Photo Credit: Paul Ladd/AP Images for Reliant)
  • Petra Nova carbon capture system (Photo Credit: Florian Martin)
    Petra Nova carbon capture system (Photo Credit: Florian Martin)
  • NRG's W.A. Parish coal power plant in Fort Bend County (Photo Credit: Florian Martin)
    NRG's W.A. Parish coal power plant in Fort Bend County (Photo Credit: Florian Martin)

It was actually a "valve opening" more so than a ribbon-cutting: Executives with NRG, Hilcorp and Japanese company JX Nippon as well as government officials simultaneously turned the wheels on a big mock pipeline.

NRG's Petra Nova system diverts carbon dioxide from the W.A. Parish plant near Sugar Land and pipes it to the West Ranch oil field 80 miles southwest of here.

There, it's used to significantly boost oil production.

NRG says it's captured and delivered more than 300,000 tons of CO2 since it first started operating in September.

"This is a great day for Texas energy diversity, the development of these clean technologies," said energy secretary Rick Perry, who was one of the speakers at the ceremony.

Also there was Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who joined in on the praise, comparing the carbon capture project to the first great Texas oil boom in 1901.

"116 years after Spindletop, Texas is once again the epicenter of energy innovation," he said. "We see that innovation right here at Petra Nova."

Critics say despite the $1 billion price tag, the carbon capture at NRG's plant is not big enough to make a difference – just about one-twelfth of the total CO2 is captured.

Environmental groups also point out that the plant continues to emit other harmful pollutants, although it does meet government standards.

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