McLean County played host to political dignitaries Monday, Aug. 13, as U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry toured Great River Energy’s Coal Creek Station courtesy of an invitation from Rep. Kevin Cramer and Sen. John Hoeven.
While there, Perry learned about the energy park concept and how it is used to efficiently harness all available energy to create many products.
That includes generating electricity to power more than 600,000 homes, providing steam to the Blue Flint ethanol biorefinery, capturing fly ash for use in making concrete, utilizing a corn drying facility to improve the local market for corn and operating the DryFining™ fuel enhancement process to improve the efficiency of Coal Creek Station.
“Making our plants more efficient is a great way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” said Rick Lancaster, Great River Energy’s vice president and chief generation officer. “We did this in a big way when our engineers invented and then installed DryFining technology, our patented method of drying coal and reducing emissions of mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide.”
Great River Energy’s DryFining technology increased Coal Creek Station’s efficiency by 4 percent and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by the same percentage.
“Today’s tour was a great opportunity to share the innovative work we are doing for our member-owner cooperatives,” said Eric Olsen, Great River Energy vice president and general counsel. “Our DryFining technology holds vast potential to reduce emissions and costs at power plants around the world. The initial technology development was funded in part through the Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Power Initiative.”
Following the tour, Great River Energy officials discussed the importance of Department of Energy extending its refined coal tax credit program. This program expires at the end of 2019 for the DryFining fuel enhancement process at Coal Creek Station. An extension of the tax credit can help provide a bridge to the future as carbon capture technologies are developed for the U.S. coal-fueled generating fleet.
Perry also toured North American Coal’s Falkirk Mine and participated in a roundtable with energy industry executives at the University of Mary where, according to The Bismarck Tribune, he said was impressed with the synergy between agriculture and energy he saw during his tour, such as the steam from Coal Creek Station that is sold to the neighboring Blue Flint ethanol biorefinery.
He applauded North Dakota on its role in the “energy renaissance” as well.
“People sometimes think you have to pick between fossil fuels and renewables,” Perry said at the roundtable. “North Dakota and Texas prove clearly that we’re all-of-the above energy producers. We need the fossil fuels, we need the nuclear energy, we need the renewables that wind and solar bring to the table, and how we manage that in our grid is really important.”
Also according to The Bismarck Tribune, Perry said the most interesting thing from the tour was hearing about the research underway about the potential for the coal-fired power plant to use excess heat and carbon dioxide for a greenhouse to grow tomatoes.
“This was, for me, a really fascinating and interesting trip,” he said during the roundtable.