Federal officials showcase alternative uses for fossil fuel infrastructure in virtual workshop | energy diary

Wyoming is home to a lot of fossil fuel infrastructure. And lots of different ideas of what to do with it.

The Biden administration wants to help the state adjust to a post-coal world, without — as federal officials have repeatedly stressed — dictating how that transition should happen. Instead, the administration hopes to fund locally developed plans.

“In Wyoming, we’ve heard that communities don’t see these factories, mines and wells as a problem to be dealt with, but as an opportunity to be exploited,” said Sameera Fazili, deputy director of the National Economic Council of the White House, during an interagency meeting. webinar held on Wednesday. “We couldn’t agree more.”

The hour-long Zoom meeting, titled “Repurposing Fossil Energy Assets,” highlighted seven new ways to harness this opportunity in coal mines, coal-fired power plants, and oil and gas wells. orphan gases.

A handful of low-carbon alternatives are already in the works, such as solar farms built on former coal mines and wind farms built where coal-fired power plants once stood. Others – including advanced nuclear reactors like the one TerraPower plans to build at Kemmerer’s Naughton Power Station – are earlier in the process.

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The survival of some cities may depend on the success of such initiatives.

“People in energy communities across the country are being left behind as we transition to a clean energy economy,” Brian Anderson, executive director of the Interagency Task Force on Energy Communities, said on the call. . The team’s mission is to ensure that these communities are no longer left behind.

A big part of that goal, Anderson said, is to direct more federal funds toward diversification in places that need it most.

The infrastructure package passed last year included more than $15 billion in Department of Energy funds for communities hardest hit by the energy transition.

Just over half of the funds are earmarked for the creation of four regional clean hydrogen centers, a fifth for battery manufacturing and recycling grants and a sixth for the advanced reactor demonstration program. The rest is split between programs supporting the manufacturing and recycling of low-carbon energy technologies, the installation of clean energy on mining lands, and the construction of a rare earth element processing facility.

Already, Wyoming has partnered with neighboring states to apply for one of the hydrogen hubs, while the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program has made TerraPower’s nuclear project possible.

An additional $10 billion in Department of Energy funds, open to but not specifically targeted to energy communities, will support work on carbon capture, direct air capture, and carbon dioxide transport infrastructure – grant programs that Wyoming is also keeping an eye on.

Although Wyoming’s fiscal structure makes it particularly vulnerable to the decline of the coal industry, nearly every US state is grappling with the loss of some, if not all, of its coal-fired power plants.

“Between the power plants that are closed and those that are due for closure in the United States,” said Kate Gordon, senior adviser to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, “there are about 300 that are in a position of potential repurposing.” .