Restart Delayed at Texas Coal Unit Linked to Petra Nova CCS Project

(Reuters) — A coal-fired unit at a Texas power station, expected to host a carbon capture project that was shuttered in 2020, will return to service in late August, months later than originally planned, the utility NRG said on Tuesday.

Unit 8 at the WA Parish plant in Richmond, Texas closed after a fire in May 2022. NRG brought back the 600-megawatt unit for several days last week in test mode and now expects it to return in late August after originally planning to restart it in late June.

NRG said the test showed "several adjustments which need to be made before we can go back into start-up," spokesperson Ann Duhon said.

The coal unit had hosted the $1 billion Petra Nova carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) plant, which sent the carbon dioxide gas about 80 miles (130 km) by pipeline, where it was pumped into an aging oilfield to boost output, a technique known as enhanced oil recovery. NRG shut Petra Nova on May 1, 2020, citing a plunge in oil prices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

JX Nippon, a Japanese energy company, is now the sole owner of Petra Nova after buying NRG's share last year. JX Nippon has said previously that the CCS plant will start up once Unit 8 starts up. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Petra Nova has been seen as a major test of efforts to sequester CO2, the major greenhouse gas, and store it permanently underground. CCS is considered by many governments and companies as crucial to curbing climate change.

Petra Nova had received a $190 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. It missed targets before shutting in 2020, capturing 3.8 million short tons of CO2 during its first three years, shy of the 4.6 million tons developers had expected.

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