GOLDEN VALLEY, N.D. - Seventy percent of North Dakota's electrical power and almost half of the state's carbon dioxide emissions come from coal based plants.
According to the EPA, in 2016 North Dakota emitted 37.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide from both coal and other energy sources.
While technology is improving to capture CO2, a new study is raising the bar.
This cutting edge project, conducted by UND's Energy and Environmental Research Center is in Western North Dakota in the rural town of Golden Valley.
With a population of less than 200 it doesn't go unnoticed when a new neighbor comes to town.
Leona and John Flemmer are lending about 5 acres of their crop land for a test site conducted by the EERC.
"I'm for it, it's progress," said John Flemmer, property owner.
"So if we can help, I feel like we are doing something about it," said Leona Flemmer, property owner.
The new neighbor is called the North Dakota CarbonSAFE project. It appears to be an oil drilling rig, but the exploration involves a potential storage site for carbon dioxide.
"It's one of the best options that are available for removing these emissions from the atmosphere," said Lonny Jacobson, Senior Operations Specialist, EERC.
CO2 is also a benefit when injected into oil reservoirs to enhance oil production, but why Golden Valley?
"There's a lot of geophysical data that already exists from previous research, we want to tie that data in from what we learned from this project." to enhance understanding of the rock formations," says Jacobson.
Right now one of two holes that are 6,000 feet deep are being drilled in order to extract core samples.
"It's going to be a 4-inch barrel of core roughly about 300 feet is what we hope to get from this well and with that core we are going to be able to take it back to our labs and do a lot of testing," said Jacobson.
Depending on the results, this could one day store 50 million tons of carbon dioxide over 25 years. The analysis will be available in Spring of 2019.
The total cost of the project is $13.8 million dollars. The Department of Energy is funding $8.7million. $1.5 million is coming from the state through the North Dakota Industrial Commission Lignite Research Program. The remaining $3.6 million is being funded by the energy industry.
From start to finish the project will take 3 weeks.
A similar test site will be set up in Center, ND in January.