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Louisiana project highlights unknowns around carbon capture


By Sara Sneath

A carbon capture proposal for a central Louisiana power plant has been titled “Project Diamond Vault” by its owner, Louisiana utility Cleco. The utility says the project will have “precious value” to the company, customers and state. Yet less than six months after announcing the project to capture carbon from the plant’s emissions and store them underground near the plant, Cleco revealed in a recent filing to its state regulator the $900m carbon capture retrofit could reduce electricity produced for its customers by about 30%. Cleco maintains it hasn’t committed to this path. But, if it decides to produce additional power necessary to run the carbon capture process, it could increase the plant’s water use by about 55%, according to studies of similar power plants. The Louisiana project is not an outlier. Operating enough carbon capture to keep the climate crisis in check would double humanity’s water use, according to University of California, Berkeley researchers. Regardless of the method being used – on a power plant or capturing carbon directly from the air – more power and more water will be needed. This reporting co-published with the Louisiana Illuminator, The Lens and the Guardian.