The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is considering a proposal to equip a natural gas power plant with carbon capture.
The proposition involves building a carbon capture facility at the Sutter Energy Center, which is a natural gas plant just outside Yuba City, California, and comes from Calpine Corporation, which is one of America’s largest producers of geothermal electricity and natural gas.
The emissions captured from the plant’s operations will be injected about half a mile underground for permanent storage, according to Calpine Corporation’s proposal.
What makes the carbon capture offer particularly interesting is that it would greatly contribute to Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2030.
Furthermore, the state of California also has one of the most ambitious climate targets of capturing around 100 million tons of carbon dioxide annually in order to achieve net zero by 2045.
However, due its high costs, carbon capture technology is not that popular everywhere, particularly in the power sector, where low-carbon and even carbon-free alternatives, such as renewables, are already widely available.
Pushback against carbon capture and storage (CCS) also comes from environmentalists, who express doubts in the climate solution’s safety, particularly in storing CO2 underground, which could potentially have harmful consequences for the environment.
Another argument often used by critics is that all CCS does is give fossil fuel companies a new lease on life, whereas they should be gradually phased out.
Proponents, on the other hand, argue that California has unique geology for the permanent storage of carbon emissions.
And with the unprecedented government subsidies ensured by the Inflation Reduction Act, the cost of the matter can be reduced significantly, according to Calpine’s pitch to SMUD last month.
If it goes through, the new CCS project in Sacramento would capture up to 95% of the plant’s CO2 emissions, amounting to about 1.5 million tons of gas per year.