Basin Electric plans for continued reliability through carbon management solutions

Reliability has ensured Basin Electric’s members can provide opportunities for the breadbasket and energy corridor of America. To provide reliable and affordable electricity to our members, Basin Electric uses an all-of-the-above generation strategy. We use coal, natural gas, hydro, renewables, and market purchases to generate the electricity we deliver.

The world is headed toward power generation under a carbon-constrained future, so Basin Electric has made a responsible decision to put resources into figuring out how to capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) to continue utilizing fossil fuel-based generation while reducing emissions.

MTR pilot project
It’s vital that we gather economic and technical information on CO2 capture of coal-based generation facilities to continue utilizing this reliable resource.

Basin Electric’s Dry Fork Station in Gillette, Wyoming, is a coal-based generation facility that provides
405 megawatts (MW) of reliable, dispatchable generation to our members and the market. This unit is a critical piece of Basin Electric’s promise to keep reliability front and center in what we do. Dry Fork Station is amongst the newest coal-based facilities in the country, making it a great location to host the Integrated Test Center (ITC).

Along with in-kind contributions from Basin Electric, the ITC has been supported by several partners. Basin Electric Class A member Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association committed $5 million, the State of Wyoming committed $15 million, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association provided an additional $1 million.

Membrane Technology and Research (MTR), a tenant at the ITC, broke ground in May on its carbon capture technology project that is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) large-scale pilot carbon capture program.

Membranes have emerged as a compelling capture technology which offer distinct advantages over amine-based capture alternatives. They are simple, compact, and environmentally friendly with no emissions, requiring only electricity for operation. MTR’s project will use the equivalent of 10 MW of flue gas from Dry Fork Station to prove the technology.

“MTR was awarded $52 million to begin Phase 3. There will be roughly a year of construction, and then operating it and working the kinks out to prove the technology,” says Basin Electric Manager of Mechanical Engineering Jim Sheldon.

In parallel, a FEED (front-end engineering and design) study was conducted by MTR considering capture from the entire flue gas stream at Dry Fork Station. Both the large-scale carbon capture pilot project and FEED study were funded by the DOE.

The FEED study was done to give stakeholders a solid idea of the cost of implementing the project at the size needed to capture CO2 from the flue gas at Dry Fork Station.

“A project like this is important to get an idea of how much a nascent technology like this costs. We want to know what the investment entails, but the capital cost is only part of it. The operating costs are ongoing. We would need to have more people, use more power, and have utilities, and all those things add up,” says Basin Electric Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Gavin McCollam. “In addition, some of the power that would normally be sent to the membership would now be used for carbon capture. This is necessary information to inform our decision-making process.”

“Essentially we need to understand if it makes business sense to move forward, and if not, what additional DOE grants would be required to advance the technology to make it commercially feasible,” says Sheldon.

Wyoming Integrated Test Center located at Basin Electric’s Dry Fork Station.

In addition to what is happening at the Integrated Test Center, find out how Wyoming CarbonSAFE and Dakota Gasification Company are contributing to Basin Electric's decarbonization efforts in the story, "Innovative solutions for carbon management" in the spring/summer issue of Basin Today.

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