Plans for a commercial-scale geological carbon storage complex near Gillette, Wyoming, has received a $15.2m award for the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory.

For the project, the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources (SER), Basin Electric Power Cooperative, and others are working to develop a site near Basin Electric’s 385-megawatt Dry Fork Station and the Wyoming Integrated Test Centre to store over 50 million metric tonnes of CO2 underground.

The three-year, $19.1m project is in its third phase under the Department of Energy’s Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) initiative, which aims to help mitigate CO2 emissions from consumption of fossil fuels.

“We have successfully demonstrated the feasibility of safely, permanently and economically storing CO2 in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, the largest coal-producing region in the nation,” said Scott Quillinan, Project Manager and SER’s Director of Research.

“Now we’re moving forward with final testing to confirm our findings – and the pursuit of necessary state and federal permits to move to the final stage, which is commercialisation and construction.”

Over the next three years, the project partners intend to conduct, commercial-scale surface and subsurface testing, data assessment and modelling; prepare and file permits for construction with Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality; integrate the project with a separately funded carbon capture study by Membrane Technology and Research; and conduct the required National Environmental Policy Act analysis.

“Basin Electric has always been passionate about coal because of its ability to remain reliable whether or not the sun is shining, or the wind is blowing,” said Paul Sukut, Basin Electric CEO and General Manager.

“CarbonSAFE has exciting potential to find permanent storage for CO2 through this geologic testing. This work is an important step in keeping our baseload viable in a carbon-constrained environment.”

In addition to the $15.2m in federal funding, Basin Electric is contributing $1.5m, and UW’s cost-sharing contribution is $2.4m.