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April 2023 Carbon Capture Update: Calpine Bets on CCUS for Natural Gas Power

Compared to other emissions sources, like coal power plants and industrial facilities, natural gas power plants are generally considered less economic candidates for carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). However, a recent wave of momentum appears to be growing for the application of CCUS at natural gas power plants. This edition of the Carbon Capture Update, powered by our new CCUS Projects Table, highlights one of the largest CCUS portfolios under development.

  • Power plant operator Onyx Power announced plans to build a blue hydrogen production plant in the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands. With a capacity to produce 300,000 t/y of hydrogen, the plant is the largest blue hydrogen facility to be announced in Europe. Generally, far more green hydrogen projects than blue hydrogen projects are being considered in Europe, though the Onyx plant would enable a much larger scale of initial production than nearly any green hydrogen project currently being developed.
  • QatarEnergy has announced that its North Field East LNG plant will capture 2.9 Mt/y of CO2 once completed in 2025. This could make North Field East the largest CCUS project in the MENA region, combining with the already operational Ras Laffan LNG CCUS to form a 5 Mt/y carbon hub in Northern Qatar. Western majors ExxonMobil, Shell, Total, ConocoPhillips, and Eni have minority stakes in the project.
  • At the end of March, Yara International announced that it would be buying into the Enbridge Ingleside Energy Center blue hydrogen and ammonia complex planned to be built outside of Corpus Christi, TX. BTU Analytics has recently observed how Gulf Coast blue ammonia production could see rapid development due to 45Q tax incentives, favorable sequestration geology, strong energy fundamentals, and growing international demand in Europe and Asia. The prospects for this particular project will likely be boosted by the addition of a partner experienced in ammonia production and international ammonia markets. A similar ammonia project, a joint venture of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and US-based Sustainable Fuels Group, also advanced this month with the selection of a site on the Mississippi River.

Spotlight: Calpine Proposes Another Two CCUS Projects for its Natural Gas Power Fleet

After announcing a retrofit project at one Texas power plant in early March, Calpine Corporation has brought forward another retrofit in California and an expansion project at a different plant in Texas. While BTU Analytics is tracking a total of 30 CCUS projects at natural gas power plants, many of these projects have been spurred by public research funding and no utility-scale project has yet reached FID. Commercial interest in the technology has generally been limited, but Calpine’s recent announcements suggest that the power plant operator sees opportunity. In fact, six different Calpine plants are currently hosting CCUS projects. Some of these are already operational at a pilot scale, but most are only in early stages. Together, CCUS projects at Calpine plants total 24% of the capacity in development for natural gas power plants. This makes Calpine far and away the most prolific developer of projects in this category.

While all commercial-scale projects of this type are only in preliminary development, Calpine may find opportunities to apply learnings from its 2021 FEED study at Deer Park Energy Center to advance projects proposed at other sites. However, Calpine’s chosen projects to date reflect a wide range of site characteristics, scale, and carbon capture technologies, which suggests the firm will not be able to use the same project template across its entire CCUS portfolio. In contrast, greenfield developer NET Power has so far announced similar specifications for all four of its projects, which could help streamline engineering and design processes.

As efforts continue to reduce power sector emissions, Calpine and NET Power’s projects could determine if natural gas with CCUS will contribute to those efforts. If you are interested in our new CCS Project database, please email info@btuanalytics.com with your name, company info, and the subject as “CCS Database.”

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Nick Jones is an Energy Analyst for BTU Analytics, researching natural gas demand fundamentals and emerging effects from the energy transition. Additionally, Nick tracks upstream trends in the Rockies. He earned his bachelor’s in economics from the University of Michigan.

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