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'Clean Energy Fund' bill in a Senate committee

Apr 6, 2021

A bill to create a state Clean Energy Authority is now before a state Senate Committee.

HB 1452 would appropriate $40 million from the state’s General Fund. A companion proposal in HB 1431, the bonding bill, would add another $250 million.

The measure is designed to fund projects to reduce emissions. That would include carbon-capture systems at coal-fired electric plants.

One of the supporters – North Dakota Petroleum Council president Ron Ness – told the Senate Appropriations Committee this would give North Dakota energy a “leg up.”

EERC researching "rare earth elements" in lignite coal

Oct 26, 2020

The University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center has been doing the study of what are called “rare earth” elements in lignite coal.

Those elements are essential for such things as cell phones, batteries and other electronic devices. Currently, the US imports most of those elements from other countries, such as China.

"We are seeing we have high concentrations in coals, and lignite in particular," said EERC CEO Charles Gorecki. "And it's just identifying where they are, and working on how you extract them, and get them to a processing plant."

A state senator from Beulah told an interim Legislative committee there’s a lot of concern in Coal Country about the planned closure of the Coal Creek Station power plant near Underwood.

The plant’s owner – Great River Energy – has said it plans to close the plant in 2022, replacing it with wind power from Minnesota, as well as natural gas. The plant runs on lignite from the Falkirk Mine. And it employs a number of people in central North Dakota.

Great River said it had been looking for a buyer, but couldn't find one.

'Project Tundra' plans moving ahead

May 6, 2020
Minnkota Power Cooperative

It’s being billed as the world’s largest carbon capture facility.

“Project Tundra” is designed to capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions from the Unit Two generator at the Milton R. Young power station near Center. It’s a joint project of UND’s Energy and Environmental Research Center, and Minnkota Power Cooperative, the plant’s owner.

Minnkota senior manager of external affairs Stacey Dahl said the project has several elements. First, the capture facility needs to be developed.

"It's essentially a big chemical processing plant," Dahl said.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

With the Clean Power Plan out, officials in North Dakota say they are still committed to finding ways to capture carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

They’re eyeing a project under construction in Texas to build a zero-emission gas plant, a small-scale version of the Allam Cycle outside Houston that’s slated to fire up next year.

Amy Sisk / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s lignite coal industry has ambitious -- and pricey -- plans to capture carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, which industry leaders highlighted Thursday at a conference in Bismarck.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Coal state lawmakers want to make cleaning up coal more economically attractive. A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced Wednesday they are re-introducing a bill to expand tax credits for projects to capture carbon dioxide.

The coal industry faces a big problem in cleaning up emissions: cost. It’s often a barrier to moving clean coal technology out of the research stage and getting it to work on a commercial scale.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy



If the coal industry is to survive, its savior may be something often touted by President Donald Trump when he talks energy.

“We’re going to have clean coal, really clean coal,” he said earlier this year in announcing an executive order to roll back the emission-targeting Clean Power Plan.

North Dakota’s lignite coal industry is excited about a new technology that could drastically cut down on carbon dioxide emissions from coal fired power plants.

It’s called the “Allam Cycle.”

"It would allow a power plant to take coal, gasify it, oxy-fire it at very high pressure," said Mike Jones, the vice-president for research and development with the Lignite Energy Council. "By oxy-firing it, we basically would be using a super-critical stream of CO2 as a working fluid that drives the turbine."

Jones says there are a number of reasons to do this.

The Obama Administration announced final rules Monday for its plan to limit carbon emissions from U.S. power plants. While some concessions were made to critics, the final rules actually increase the carbon cuts demanded from states and will have long-lasting impacts on the way power is produced.

The White House previewed the announcement on Sunday with a video narrated by President Obama.