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Industrial Commission okays two studies for 'value-added' energy development

Courtesy EERC

The state Industrial Commission has approved $10 million to fund two legislatively-directed research projects that could lead to more “value added” energy development.

The Energy and Environmental Research Center will conduct the research.

"That's really fortuitous, as the nation looks at decarbonizing," said EERC director Charles Gorecki. IN an interview, Gorecki said creating a "hydrogen economy" is the goal.

"Creating a 'road map' for North Dakota, for hydrogen and a hydrogen economy is going to be incredibly important, so the state can make strategic investments, and help industry make those strategic investments," Gorecki said.

One study will look at the feasibility of creating salt caverns for hydrocarbon storage. Gorecki said that’s going to be important for attracting the petrochemical industry, as well as for storing hydrogen and other liquid fuels.

"North Dakota doesn't have those at this point," Gorecki said. "We have salts that could potentially be very useful for that."

Gorecki said EERC will drill into those and collecting the core.

"We don't have that at this point," Gorecki said.

That study will cost $9.5 million. The other $500,000 study looks at hydrogen energy development in North Dakota. Two companies recently announced a plan to produce so-called “blue hydrogen” at the Great Plains Synfuels Plant.

Gorecki said Great Plains is already a hydrogen plant.

"Blue hydrogen is what we create using a fossil fuel source," Gorecki said. "We then capture the carbon, and store it underground."

Gorecki said it's perfect for a state like North Dakota.

"Minnesota, Iowa, places like that cannot, because they don't have suitable geology," Gorecki said.

The state’s Oil and Gas Research Council will still have to complete a technical review before the studies can move forward.

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