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Jul 24, 2019

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David Knox

Petra Nova is the largest carbon capture system in the world and the only commercial scale carbon capture project in America.

It captures over 90% of the CO2 in the processed flue gas, a quantity of flue gas equal to a 240 MW coal plant. That represents a reduction of over 5,000 tons of CO2 emissions per day.

It does use a natural gas plant to provide the needed steam and power for the system. When you include the CO2 emissions from the gas plant, the net capture is still over 70%.

While you can make a case for adding the CO2 emissions from the produced oil, there is an important fact that that simple math leaves out. Through the CO2 from Petra Nova, we are increasing the supply of domestic oil production. We are not increasing the consumption of oil. So we are reducing the amount of oil being imported into America. We are not increasing the CO2 footprint of America. Essentially, that oil was going to be consumed regardless and the CO2 release is irrelevant of what Petra Nova does so to say that we are increasing CO2 emissions is to be selective in the facts one is considering and is overall, incorrect and misleading.

One could make the case that if we had enough Carbon Capture increasing the oil supply that we reduced the cost of oil, that could actually increase the consumption of oil but we are nowhere near that today and to reduced that much CO2 from America’s electrical generation portfolio would actually be a good problem to have.

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    Sorensen, editor and proprietor of Bluestem Prairie, serves clients in the business and nonprofit sectors. While progressive in outlook, she does not caucus with any political party.

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