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Wyomingites can speak up on state funding for 2 energy projects

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GILLETTE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Energy Authority has made a recommendation to Gov. Mark Gordon that he allow the state to fully fund requests regarding two projects.

Public comment regarding the projects the Wyoming Energy Authority selected is due Aug. 18, the organization’s news release said. Project summaries are here. Comments can be sent to wea@wyo.gov.

The funding

In 2022, Wyoming legislators decided the governor could spend $100 million to provide matching funds for private or federal funding for research, demonstration, piloting or commercial deployment projects for Wyoming energy. Legislators made $50 million more available this year.

The Wyoming Energy Authority has selected a project that the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources is partnering with Frontier Carbon Solutions on and a project that BWXT Advanced Technologies is developing, the release said. Gordon delegated the management of the funding appropriation, the Energy Matching Funds, to the Wyoming Energy Authority to support the state’s projects that are applying for federal funding.

Frontier Carbon Solutions

The SER and Frontier together are slated to receive $9.1 million for their Sweetwater Carbon Storage Hub project, the release said. The Department of Energy chose the project to negotiate a proposed $40.5 million award for a CarbonSAFE Phase III award issued under the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act. EMF funds would be used to hasten southwest Wyoming’s first commercial-scale carbon storage hub by supporting operations and capital investments.

Researchers from SER’s Center for Economic Geology Research and Frontier Carbon Solutions, the owner and operator of the hub, will lead the project, which is supposed to help prove large-scale carbon sequestration in southwestern Wyoming is appropriate through finishing preparations for permitting Class VI wells, the release said.

According to the Wyoming Energy Authority, successful large-scale carbon sequestration could provide carbon management solutions for difficult-to-abate industrial processes, bring in more money through pore space use, create jobs and increase business activity.

BWXT Advanced Technologies

BWXT Advanced Technologies may receive nearly $10 million of the $20.6 million it needs to assess microreactor deployment, applications and development of nuclear microreactor technologies and knowledge in Wyoming, the release said. Money would be distributed in two phases. It already has a cost-share partnership with the DOE’s risk reduction segment of the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program.

BWXT will determine whether deploying small-scale nuclear reactors in Wyoming to support existing power generation resources would help the state meet growing energy needs, according to the release. The company will find where the state’s supply chain can support reactor component manufacturing and reactor deployment. It will also investigate how its microreactor design could be part of the state’s energy future.

BWXT wants to bolster the state’s extraction industries with carbon-free production of electricity and high-temperature process heat, the release said. It plans to have a microreactor that would be a demonstration plant for a fleet of microreactors that could be deployed in Wyoming and the region. The conceptual design for the microreactor would make it possible to estimate production costs and show how the state’s supply chain could be part of fleet deployment. The company plans to collaborate with Wyoming industrial partners during the project.

“BWXT is very excited to get started on this project and work with the WEA and other Wyoming organizations who share our belief in the benefits of nuclear power,” BWXT Advanced Technologies president Joe Miller said in the release. “At the end of this project, the potential job-creation, manufacturing and industrial opportunities for nuclear power in Wyoming will be clearer, and we will have a roadmap for deploying microreactors in Wyoming. When state and federal agencies work together with the private sector, we can unlock the economic and environmental benefits of nuclear innovations.”

BWXT announced Aug. 2 it has a contract with TerraPower to design the Intermediate Heat Exchanger for the Natrium Demonstration Project in Kemmerer.

Wyoming Energy Authority Executive Director Rob Creager said the state wants to offer pragmatic energy solutions and the funds showcase how public and private partners can be successful.

“Projects like the Sweetwater Carbon Storage Hub and the BWXT microreactor project hold potential for our energy security and Wyoming’s economic advancement,” Creager said.

There will be more funding opportunities in the near future, the Wyoming Energy Authority said.

Correction, Aug. 9. A spokesperson for the Wyoming Energy Authority said Aug. 9 that Gov. Gordon hasn’t yet signed off on these awards. They have been recommended to him. He is expected to sign off on them after the 10-day public comment period. The story above has been corrected.

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