Wyoming power

A carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) study completed for several Wyoming coal-fueled power plants found that retrofits may provide significant benefits and reduce emissions. 

The study by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) evaluated the potential opportunities for retrofitting the state’s existing power plants with CCUS technology, as well as the economic impact. It also reviewed the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reductions compared to alternative resources.

The study considered the retrofit of nine units at four power plants in Wyoming owned by Rocky Mountain Power. Wyoming is one of the country’s leading coal producers.

“We are in a critical time for energy policy and production,” said Gov. Mark Gordon, who requested the study. “Wyoming can help lead in developing and supporting advances that boost our coal industry and reduce carbon emissions. The Department of Energy is also providing key leadership,” an “example of a partnership everyone can support. It moves Wyoming and the nation ahead.”

The DOE “has invested hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars to advance CCUS technologies and to drive down the cost of deployment,” said Deputy Energy Secretary Mark Menezes. “This study shows that through innovative technologies, like CCUS, we can develop affordable energy more cleanly, and clean energy more affordably, providing a vision for the future of fossil energy. 

“Electricity generated from fossil fuels that is reliable, cost effective and nearly zero CO2 emissions is in the best interest of Wyoming and the country.”

The study compared CCUS use to an alternative case in the most recent PacifiCorp 2019 integrated resource plan (IRP). The CCUS retrofits reduced CO2 emissions by 37% (100 million metric tons), more than the 2019 IRP baseline portfolio. CCUS also produced avoided costs for CO2 emissions that were $24/ton ($21.50/metric ton) less expensive than the baseline IRP.

DOE found that the retrofits could reduce the amount for ratepayers by about 10% a month and could lift state employment benefits up to five times higher. In addition, the retrofits could lead to higher revenue. 

The partnership was led by DOE Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy Steve Winberg. The recent wildfire-related blackouts in California show how much baseload generation is needed, he said.

“Given recent events in California, this timely report demonstrates the need for clean, reliable fossil fuel baseload generation,” Winberg said. “Aggressive CCUS initiatives could establish Wyoming as a world leader in that technology. That effort would pay large and increasing dividends to the state as CCUS becomes one of the dominant economic and energy technologies of the 21st century.”

The study team was led by Leonardo Technologies Inc., with financial and technical support from DOE. Technical contributions were provided by the National Energy Technology Laboratory, Management Information Services Inc., the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources’ Center for Economic Geology Research, and the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute.The DOE study follows a recent report by the Brattle Group consultancy highlighting new policy incentives that are making carbon capture an increasingly attractive option for U.S. natural gas and power utilities.