XPrize Helps Bring Innovation to Gillette

(Gillette, Wyo.) "This isn't just a dream. This is something we're doing." -- Governor Matt Mead at the ITC Groundbreaking. When the XPrize Foundation started, it was with its eye on space flight, inspired by Charles Lindbergh's prize-winning Spirit of St. Louis flight. Ten years later, and private space flight is a multi-billion-dollar industry, partially centered in the Mojave desert, at SpaceshipOne's headquarters. Wyoming is hoping to the same sort of thing will happen in Gillette. The Integrated Test Center being built at Basin Electric's Dry Fork station is the product of a lot of hard work from several different agencies. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association realized about six years ago that carbon management needed to find a new option. They began working with XPrize to see if they could be successful in developing such a thing. The test center was spurred along by Governor Matt Mead, and it broke ground this afternoon, but construction had already started last month. Over 1400 people wanted to participate in this latest challenge: The $20 million NRG Cosia Carbon XPrize. The goal is to find a way to change CO2 emissions in to a secondary product that can generate revenue as well as benefit the environment. There are now 120 teams registering to compete to win a spot at the test center when it opens in 2018. Those teams represent 40 different countries around the world, competing in both the coal aspect of the contest (which will be Gillette's role,) and the natural gas aspect. "We need a place like the ITC to demonstrate that level of different innovation," said XPrize's Senior Scientist, Paul Bunje. "We're not just about fixing problems. We're thinking about new opportunities." The goal is to advance technology faster than it evolves on its own by offering the cash prize. But the reward for the original suborbital spaceflight contest was $10 million, and more than $100 million was spent by teams researching how to make private spaceflight possible. Ultimately everyone involved hopes that -- despite the test center only being scheduled to be in use eight years -- after the XPrize winner is announced in 2020, the test center will be put to use in a new carbon-based industry that will spring up here, in the nation's energy capital. "I have great faith that the brilliant people that participate in this will find a solution," said Governor Matt Mead during the press conference. "We're looking for a game changer for coal, and the world." *Photo h/t Wyoming ITC // Pitchengine Communities* #county17 #news