The Environmental Protection Agency is anticipated to put forth strict new regulations in the coming weeks regarding emissions from coal and natural gas-burning power plants.

The Biden administration’s plan to limit, for the first time, greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants could hinge on the ability of plant operators to capture carbon dioxide before it is pumped into the atmosphere.

The viability of that strategy, however, is called into question because none of the country’s 3,400 coal- and gas-fired power plants currently employ carbon capture technology in a significant way.

The Environmental Protection Agency is anticipated to put forth strict new regulations in the coming weeks regarding emissions from coal and natural gas-burning power plants, which are accountable for about 25% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. The planet is being dangerously warmed by these emissions.

While switching to wind or solar energy or other pollution-reduction measures are options for electric utilities, experts say capturing carbon dioxide and burying it underground may be the only way for some large coal and gas plants to continue operating while meeting the new regulations.

Electric utilities have had trouble implementing carbon capture technology due to its high cost and complexity over the years. Major obstacles still exist, despite some people’s insistence that it is a crucial tool for addressing climate change.

Many industrial facilities, including ethanol and natural gas processing plants, already use carbon capture. Additionally, three coal plants in Maryland, Oklahoma, and California use chemical solvents to capture a tiny portion of the carbon dioxide emitted by their smokestacks, which they then sell to clients including businesses that manufacture carbonated beverages.

Biden has pledged $500 million to fight deforestation in Brazil and $1 billion to help developing countries transition away from fossil fuels.

Electric vehicles have been analyzed to help the E.P.A. design new rules, but electric utilities have found it difficult to capture large amounts of carbon dioxide from coal- and gas-fired power plants due to the steep price tag.

In the 2010s, several projects funded by the federal government were abandoned due to high costs. Only one coal plant in the US, the Petra Nova facility in Texas, used carbon capture on a large scale.

The biggest hurdle is that it’s usually cheaper to let carbon dioxide waft into the atmosphere than to capture it. Without government limits on pollution or subsidies, utilities are unlikely to go through the trouble.

Last year, Congress increased existing tax credits to up to $85 for every ton of carbon dioxide that polluters capture and bury underground, leading to growing interest in carbon capture and storage. Calpine Corporation, one of the country’s largest generators of electricity from natural gas, is exploring plans to install the technology at four large gas plants in Texas and California.

The federal tax credit on its own won’t be enough to cover the cost of capturing carbon, so Calpine is exploring other potential sources of financing to bridge the gap and gain experience driving down costs for future carbon capture projects.

Mr. Stephenson is optimistic about carbon capture technology, which could allow gas-fired plants to provide electricity on demand without polluting. The E.P.A. can’t require electric utilities to use any specific technology to cut emissions, but it could set limits on greenhouse gases that some plants may have to install carbon capture to meet them.

A recent study by Rhodium Group estimated that only 20 gigawatts of coal and gas plants would likely install carbon capture by 2035. Some utilities may find it cheaper to shutter their large coal and gas plants and get more electricity from wind, solar and batteries. In other cases, it may be easier to modify existing gas plants to run entirely on clean hydrogen fuel that does not produce emissions.

John Larsen, a partner at Rhodium Group, said: “We just don’t see a lot of carbon capture being deployed in the power sector.” It’s not due to significant technical obstacles, but rather to the intense competition from other sources.

Of course, Mr. Larsen noted, those predictions could be off. In regions of the country where the construction of new wind and solar power is challenging due to a lack of power lines or local opposition, carbon capture may appear to be a more appealing option.

Advanced batteries are one promising option for supporting renewable energy, but they might not work out. Additionally, in order to keep a market for fossil fuels like coal, some states, like Wyoming, have expressed interest in encouraging their utilities to use carbon capture technology.

The Rhodium Group discovered that industrial facilities, like hydrogen or ethanol plants, where it is frequently technically simpler to capture carbon dioxide and there are fewer options for reducing emissions, would be more likely to use carbon capture.

Critics of carbon capture projects worry that cost overruns could cause electricity prices to spike. Environmental groups oppose the technology, arguing that it does not reduce air pollution or address leaks of methane from natural gas wells and pipelines.

Chevron’s carbon capture facility in Australia has fallen short of expectations. David Schlissel, an analyst for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, has criticised carbon capture projects.

The US currently has 5,000 miles of pipelines to transport carbon dioxide, and some proposed pipelines are facing opposition. Additionally, the E.P.A. has been slow to approve permits for subterranean wells to store carbon dioxide.

Power companies disagree as to whether the technology is ready for widespread use. The E.P.A. was informed last year by Southern Company, an electric utility testing carbon capture for natural gas plants at a facility in Alabama, that additional technological advancements were required to lower costs and increase reliability.

According to Jay Duffy, litigation director at the environmental advocacy group Clean Air Task Force, only three plants in the nation had sulphur scrubbers in the 1970s, when the E.P.A. established regulations for sulphur pollution. “And by the decade’s end, they were pervasive. Every time a new pollution regulation is introduced, this dynamic is present.