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Smoke rises from a natural gas power plant outside of Dallas, Texas, on January 04, 2018. Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A 50 megawatt, zero-emissions natural gas demonstration plant near La Porte, Texas, had its first successful fire in May. NetPower, the company that owns the plant, has set a goal to deploy 300-megawatt commercial-scale plants around the world beginning as early as 2021, and says its technology should work with coal, too.

Why it Matters: Researchers have sought for decades to realize the potential of carbon capture technology to make fossil fuels into a cost-competitive, zero-emissions power source. If NetPower's technology keeps working, this dream could become reality. Implementing such a technology could make a significant dent in global carbon emissions, given that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects fossil fuels to account for more than three-quarters of world energy consumption through 2040.

The details: NetPower's project employs the Allam Cycle, an innovative process that enables the plant to run its turbine using its own sequestered, pressurized CO2 as working fluid rather than steam. This unique feature makes the emissions capture an integral part of the combustion process. (A technical explanation of the Allam Cycle is available here.)

Yes, but: The Allam Cycle is cost-effective in part because its main byproduct, commercial-grade liquefied CO2, can be sold for enhanced oil-recovery. There may not be enough market demand for liquified CO2 to allow for significant, cost-effective scaling of Allam Cycle plants. Others question the net environmental benefits of the technology, given that the sequestered carbon would primarily be used to facilitate further fossil fuel production.

What to watch: There is increasing interest in this technology among industry and policymakers, yet myriad questions remain on its implementation. Further deploying this promising technology will require significant coordination among researchers, industry stakeholders and state and federal policymakers.

Sarah E. Hunt is the co-founder and CEO of Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy

Go deeper

Pelosi announces bid for re-election ahead of 2022 midterms

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her bid for re-election Tuesday, amid a deluge of other safe-seat Democrats announcing their retirements.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s announcement follows months of speculation — despite her denials — that she was preparing to leave Congress.

Scoop: Qatar emir to visit White House on Monday

The emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, leaves the White House after meeting President Trump in 2019. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The emir of Qatar will meet with President Biden at the White House on Monday to discuss Afghanistan as well as contingency plans to provide natural gas to Europe in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Europe's reliance on Russia for 40% of its natural gas is undermining Biden's attempts to coordinate "massive" sanctions to be imposed from both sides of the Atlantic if Russia invades. The White House wants Qatar to help ensure European countries can enforce tough sanctions without risking an energy crisis.

Biden: There won't be "American forces moving into Ukraine"

President Joe Biden told reporters Tuesday that he does not foresee U.S. troops moving into Ukraine.

Why it matters: Biden's comments come as tensions between Russia and Ukraine persist, and a Russian invasion of Ukraine appears increasingly likely.