Electric Co-ops Break Ground on Carbon Research Test Center

(ARLINGTON, Va.) — The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is joining with members of a public-private partnership today, in Gillette, Wyo., to break ground on an industrial-scale laboratory that will test innovative methods for removing and utilizing carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The center’s projected completion date is the summer of 2017.

The Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC) will allow researchers to test the capture, utilization and sequestration of carbon. The center will use flue gas from the Dry Fork Station, a 422-megawatt generation facility owned by Basin Electric Power Cooperative. NRECA contributed $1 million to the project.

“The Integrated Test Center is a shining example of how America’s electric cooperatives are pushing the boundaries of innovation,” said Jim Spiers, NRECA’s vice president of Business and Technology Strategies. “From distributed generation and renewable energy to cyber security and carbon capture, co-ops are collaborating with public and private interests to meet the needs of their member-consumers and increase economic prosperity in their communities.”

Paul Sukut, Basin Electric’s CEO, said the project seeks to “reduce carbon dioxide emissions without adversely impacting our local economies. This project is one step in that direction.”

Joining NRECA and Basin Electric in the ITC partnership are Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE and the state of Wyoming, which contributed $15 million to the project. Tri-State contributed $5 million to the ITC.

“With our partners, we’ve worked tirelessly to spur a new path for entrepreneurship and innovation in carbon management,” said Mike McInnes, Tri-State’s CEO.

XPRIZE will use the facility for the final phase of its $10 million carbon competition. It will award prize money to the developer of the most successful new technology for transforming coal based flue gas into a commercial product.

Transforming carbon dioxide emissions into revenue-producing products could offset the high cost of carbon removal and go a long way toward solving the carbon challenge, while potentially keeping energy plants in operation, saving jobs and sparing local communities from economic hardship. Products made from waste carbon dioxide could include chemicals, fuels, building materials and graphene, an exotic allotrope of carbon that has extraordinary properties, such as being 100 times stronger than steel.

The XPRIZE competition will conclude in 2020.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.