EERC Creates Framework for Great Plains Emissions-Reduction Partnership

EERC Creates Framework for Great Plains Emissions-Reduction Partnership

The University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) has developed a collaborative regional framework to support a comprehensive effort by the U.S. Department of Energy to control carbon-dioxide emissions.

The Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership (PCORP) will help explore new methods for carbon sequestration -- a means of protecting the environment by capturing carbon dioxide and storing the emissions -- in the northern Great Plains of North America. PCORP includes private-entity partners from five states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, and Wyoming) and two Canadian provinces (Saskatchewan and Manitoba).

"The EERC has become one of seven regional teams in DOE's nationwide carbon sequestration study," said EERC associate director for research Tom Erickson. "The diverse PCORP team, led by the EERC, has the expertise, experience, facilities, and capabilities to fulfill the DOE's project goals."

The partnership support the President's Global Climate Change Initiative, which calls for an 18% reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas intensity by 2012.

The EERC will receive $1.58 million in federal funding to support the program, as well as $1.16 million from more than 20 energy companies around the region. One of the main partners is Dakota Gasification Company, which is making about $700,000 of in-kind contributions. Five other entities, including Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., Otter Tail Power Company, the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC), and Great River Energy, are contributing a total of $360,000 in cash. That brings the project total to $2.75 million.

"In addition to coal utilities, this partnership will bring together oil and gas producers; state environmental, health, and oil and gas entities; and public outreach groups to put together the best possible team for future success," said EERC associate director for research John Harju. "The intent of the project is to build momentum for Phase II, which could lead to millions of dollars in demonstration projects."

"This is a typical EERC contract, which includes both government and private industry funding," said EERC director Gerald Groenewold. "Without private entity partnerships from the very beginning of a project, commercial application is highly unlikely."

PCORP's region includes the Williston and Powder River Basins. The area includes 29 coal-fired utilities, 27 ethanol production facilities, and the Dakota Gasification facility that, together, account for about half of the region's CO2 sources.

Other participating partners include Nexant-Bechtel, North Dakota State University, Prairie Public Television, Fischer Oil and Gas, the Western Governors' Association, Amerada Hess Corporation, Environment Canada, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council, NDIC's Oil and Gas Division, the North Dakota Geological Survey, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the North Dakota Department of Health, and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

DOE is expected to spend more than $11 million nationwide over the next two years on the carbon sequestration study.