Innovative solutions for carbon management

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.

The FEED study that was completed last June assumed 70% flue gas capture. The next phase will be building on the original FEED study to determine if 90% carbon capture is achievable. After completion, Basin Electric will have an estimated cost for commercial-scale carbon capture technology at this location and can make educated decisions for the future. MTR was selected for a $2.5 million grant from U.S. Department of Energy with a $5 million project budget to fund an additional FEED study.

“Our learnings from the work done at the ITC could provide us a pathway to a technology solution to allow us to continue operating responsibly and also ensure the reliability our members expect,” says Basin Electric CEO and General Manager Todd Telesz. “We will not sacrifice reliability, but we will remain dedicated partners in achieving the mutual goals of providing reliable, affordable, and responsible electricity, 24/7/365.”

The Wyoming CarbonSAFE Project, which stands for Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise, is a carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) project site funded by the DOE and located at Dry Fork Station.

Phase 1 and Phase 2 of CarbonSAFE have been completed. Phase 1 consisted of a pre-feasibility study to determine whether there were any obstacles to project success. Phase 2 focused on site characterization; a 9,800-foot well was drilled to study four different geological formations and a 3-D seismic survey was conducted to study the subsurface away from the well.

Phase 3 will finalize site characterization, permit wells for CO2 storage, integrate carbon capture technology from Wyoming ITC (working with MTR), and conduct environmental analysis for commercial operation.

“We need to amend the scope and schedule of the project due to the requirements to apply for Phase 4, so
Phase 3 won’t end this fall as originally anticipated. The critical path for the remaining Phase 3 activities seems to be completing the environmental assessment which started earlier this year. The extension of the project would allow for completion of the environmental assessment and completion of a supplemental MTR FEED study focusing on 90% capture,” says Sheldon. “These efforts all lead up to the information needed to complete the business case and understand the impacts of CCUS at Dry Fork Station. We should have a lot more information by the end of 2024 with these items complete and demonstration of the MTR technology at the 10-MW scale.”

There is also potential to utilize 45Q tax credits with this project.

“We are excited to be a part of the pursuit to find a means of reducing carbon while continuing to use coal to power our economy,” says Telesz.

Dakota Gasification Company
Since 2000, Dakota Gasification Company has been an early leader in CCUS. Located near Beulah, North Dakota, the Great Plains Synfuels Plant currently captures approximately 2 million metric tons of the plant’s CO2 emissions, which are piped to Saskatchewan for use in enhanced oil recovery.

The Synfuels Plant’s CCUS efforts are being taken one step further with the Great Plains Carbon Sequestration Project. This innovative project will benefit the environment by sequestering and permanently storing CO2 from the Synfuels Plant. The project includes the 6.8-mile Dakota Carbon Pipeline and an injection well which will be located on reclaimed land owned by The Coteau Properties Company. The CO2 will be injected more than a mile below the surface in the Broom Creek (sandstone) formation.

Sustainability Report
Basin Electric recently released its first-ever Sustainability Report. The report shares Basin Electric’s story regarding our leadership in environmental stewardship, renewable generation, and reclamation; leadership in carbon capture; the importance of sustainability; our commitment to the people and communities we serve; democratic member control; and more.

Every decision Basin Electric makes is intentional, and deciding to not include a carbon reduction goal in the report was no exception.

“Because the technology isn’t yet available to reach a zero-carbon goal, we felt it wasn’t prudent to set a goal we aren’t confident we could achieve at this time,” says Todd Brickhouse, Basin Electric senior vice president and chief financial officer. “We have a long history of CCUS at Dakota Gas, and we’ve invested in developing new ways to make carbon capture and sequestration an even bigger part of our story. We are committed to lowering our carbon footprint strategically and sensibly in a way that will allow us to serve our members reliably and affordably.”

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