A unique plant to the region stands amongst corn and soybean fields just east of Jamestown, N.D.
Spiritwood Station, a combined heat and power plant, differs from traditional plants in “coal country” in that its primary product is process steam for two adjacent agriculture processing plants – the Dakota Spirit AgEnergy (DSA) ethanol biorefinery and a malting facility.
The plant also provides electricity for the regional market.
Spiritwood Station can tout huge efficiency gains over traditional plants; it currently achieves about 60 percent efficiency. That’s because the plant takes advantage of lower energy in the steam that is sent to DSA and the malting facility for their needs which returns it as warm water instead of releasing it to cooling towers as happens at a conventional power plant.
Spiritwood Station’s efficiency will improve even further with additional steam customers, such as the soybean crush facility and refinery to be located near Spiritwood Station in 2019. However, even with current efficiencies, the plant already meets the carbon dioxide limits proposed in the Clean Power Plan.
Spiritwood Station has traditionally used DryFine™ lignite – a higher-efficiency fuel – to make steam and electricity. In the past year, however, it has incorporated a blend of natural gas at varying rates, depending on availability and market prices.
Natural gas is a clean and efficient energy resource that benefits Spiritwood Station by making it a multi-fuel, flexible plant.
“The use of natural gas is helping us with a low-emissions strategy. It is also helping us optimize our portfolio of generation assets,” said Nathan Domyahn, director, peaking and generation engineering, Great River Energy.
Spiritwood Station is in its third full year of operation in 2017.