Press Release — Tuesday, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), welcomed the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority’s (WIA) Executive Director Jason Begger to the committee. Begger was testifying before the committee at a Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee hearing titled “Developing and Deploying Advanced Clean Energy Technologies.” The hearing focused on carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS), and advanced nuclear technologies.
In his introduction of Begger to the committee, Barrasso said, “I would like to introduce Jason Begger, who has served as executive director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority since July 2015.
“His past experience includes positions in the private sector and time as a staffer for the U.S. House of Representatives, where he handled energy issues. In his current role, Jason oversees the development of the Wyoming Integrated Test Center.
“The center is now under construction, on the site of a state-of-the-art, coal-fired power plant outside of Gillette, Wyoming. When the center comes online later this year, researchers will use the facility to test carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration technologies.
“Those researchers will include finalists of the Carbon XPRIZE competition. That XPRIZE competition attracted 47 teams from 7 countries to compete for funding to research innovative ways to convert CO2 captured from coal plants into marketable products.
“In my home state of Wyoming, we know coal provides affordable, reliable energy and good jobs. Coal towns in the Powder River Basin, the Green River Basin, and across Wyoming have been smothered by federal overreach and regulation. The state-led Wyoming initiative provides a path forward for coal, while spurring new technologies to transform carbon emissions into useable products. Mr. Begger I want to thank you for coming to Washington today. We look forward to your testimony about this successful venture in Wyoming.” said Barrasso.
In his written testimony, Begger highlighted several ways the WIA is advancing clean energy development.
One approach has been to use public-private partnerships to establish the Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC). A post-combustion, flue gas facility, the ITC will house the largest carbon capture testing facility of its kind in the nation. “Strong partnerships with the private sector, especially those industries that would ultimately be a customer of the technology, helps ensure our research objectives are aligned with their economic needs,” said Begger.
Organizing contests for a cash prize is also an approach WIA has taken to incentivize the development of new technologies. “The NRG COSIA Carbon XRPRIZE will award $20 million in prizes to the teams that are best able to convert CO2 into other valuable products. Currently, 27 teams from six countries are working on ways to convert CO2 into things like carbon nanotubes, methanol, building materials, fish food and plastics. The goal is to turn CO2 into an asset,” said Begger in his testimony.
Begger detailed how public-private partnership competitions like the XPRIZE ensure that the most advanced technologies are developed. “First, it provides a mechanism to vet technologies. Only the projects that work advance. Secondly, it sets an aggressive timeline. If they don’t meet certain benchmarks, they don’t advance. Thirdly, it opens to door to entrepreneurs and small inventors. Access to capital isn’t an immediate barrier to entry. Lastly, the notoriety and public recognition for winning the competition will bring investors to them.”
For more information on Begger’s testimony, click here.