The board of the North Dakota Industrial Commission has awarded over $15 million in grants for three projects aimed at reducing environmental impacts and increasing energy efficiency.
The board’s three members approved the proposals which were put forward by the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority, the administrator of the Clean Sustainable Energy Program. The CSEA was established in 2021 to support the development and commercialisation of projects, processes, activities, and technologies that reduce environmental impacts and increase the sustainability of energy production and delivery. A clear goal of the North Dakota programme is to attract industries that not only productively utilise its energy resources but also contribute to reducing gas waste in the form of flaring and venting, etc. Already, since the programme’s inception, three grant rounds have been held, in which a total of $250 million in loans, $20 million in hydrogen grants from federal dollars and $24.3 million in state grants have been awarded.
These latest grants have gone to: the “Liberty H2 Hub” project, an effort led by the University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center to develop large-scale facilities for low-carbon hydrogen development and which was awarded $10 million for engineering and design work; California-based Newlight Technologies, which submitted a proposal for “Project Phoenix,” which aims to build a plant to manufacture its biodegradable AirCarbon material in North Dakota; and Denver-based Enerplus Corp. which has been granted $1.1 million for geothermal power generation for oil and gas production.
The three projects will ‘leverage $5 million in state dollars and $10 million in federal dollars to unlock over $19.5 million in private investments into North Dakota’s energy future’, the Industrial Commission said in a joint statement. It also stated they are a ‘great example of what can be accomplished when government partners with innovators rather than regulate their projects out of existence’.
For Newlight Technologies, the grant will allow the plans for the company’s first expansion outside its native California to go forward. According to the proposal submitted by the company, the project also fulfils the goals of the CSEA by utilising methane gas or C02 for the production of its AirCarbon PHB, a natural, biodegradable material that is a viable alternative to single-use plastic.
AirCarbon is produced by ocean-based micro-organisms that consume carbon in the form of methane or CO2. It degrades more easily because environmental microorganisms recognise it as a natural food source.
Newlight will be working in close cooperation with its longtime partner Incoho Consulting Group on the realisation of the project.