The Rise of the Zero Emission Power Plant?


With recent declared emergencies from ERCOT, let’s talk about something a little more cheerful. According to various sources, the power plant builder Net Power recently demonstrated at their power plant in La Porte, Texas that producing electricity without CO2 emissions is possible and actually pretty scalable across the country.

As James Conca at Forbes says, “Not using air also avoids generating NOx, the main atmospheric and health contaminant emitted from gas plants.” So these net-zero plants are definitely a boon to our environment. Increased temperatures and climate change betray a large carbon footprint, and technologies like these are a telling sign that Texas is working hard to combat climate change. 

Designing Net-Zero Plants from the Ground Up

According to David Goldstein, achieving net zero (often also called ‘zero net’) production means that a power plant produces “as much renewable energy onsite as they consume in a year.” But greenhouse gas emissions can be a little trickier to reduce.

Often, plants added extra steps after the fact, which resulted in wasted, more expensive energy. But utilizing the Allam Cycle, Net Zero and other parties have designed the whole process anew and have actually lessened the cost of producing nearly zero emissions of harmful greenhouse gas. And because of this lessened cost, creating these power plants is actually less expensive than conventional plants.

And as the plant at La Porte, Texas shows, there is now no excuse to replace coal plants with these environmentally-friendly versions. Coal plants are already being phased out and not producing well, but is Net Power’s vision realistic? Or is it overly optimistic?

A Step in the Right Direction for Texas

Texas has been criticized for muddying the waters on the climate change issue. In this opinion piece by The Hill, Jeremy Symons states that the EIA data has shown Midwestern and Southeastern states are cutting the most emissions. As he says, “These states, which often had particularly high concentrations of coal-fired pollution, have benefited most from the shift to cleaner sources of electric power.” 

Seeing that Texas is the leading energy producer and consumer in the country, it’s common to expect that emissions might be highest here. But as Jeremy Symons states, the biggest changes in other states came from switching from coal plants to cleaner sources. 

If the plant in La Porte says anything about the future of energy production plants in Texas, then things are looking pretty optimistic. Hopefully this will be a strong move in making Texas a greener state.

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