CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A power company is raising money for a $10 million X Prize to spur technology to capture and use carbon dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead proposed Thursday that his state get involved in the competition by helping build a facility where teams could test out their technology.
The prize winner would have to be able to show they could economically capture carbon emissions at a working power plant. They also would have to be able to put the carbon to a use that could defray the cost of keeping the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere.
The Culver City, Calif.-based X Prize Foundation was behind the $10 million Ansari X Prize, which led to the first private manned spaceflight in 2004. Current contests include the $30 million Google Lunar Lander X Prize for the first private company to safely land a craft on the moon.
The Tri-State Carbon X Prize is under development while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeks to require all new coal-fired power plants to capture carbon dioxide.
Westminster, Colo.-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc. is looking ahead to the day when existing coal-fired power plants might also need to meet such a standard, Vice President Jim Spiers said.
"We tend to have policy outstripping technology. And that puts us in a very difficult position," Spiers said in a presentation Thursday at the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority's winter meeting in Cheyenne.
It's just not economically feasible for Tri-State to reduce CO2 emissions by modifying its coal-fired power plants to burn natural gas, he said.
Tri-State supplies electricity to 44 electric cooperatives and public power districts in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico. All but one of the nonprofit, wholesale electricity provider's six coal-fired power plants have at least 30 years of life left before needing major upgrades that could make conversion to gas power feasible, he said.
X Prize spokesman Eric Desatnik said by email that the Tri-State Carbon X Prize is "still in development" and not ready for launch.