Eye on the Prize in Carbon Capture
SAN DIEGO—By his own admission it was “a crazy idea.”
“I thought, ‘Wow! What if I could create a competition, a prize that would open up space so that I could get a chance to go and bring my friends with me?’” said Peter Diamandis.
He offered $10 million to the winner—even though he didn’t have a nickel of that raised at first.
Eight years later, the first X PRIZE paid off. And today, Diamandis is bringing the futuristic thinking at the heart of his X PRIZE Foundation to electric cooperatives.
“I’m fond of saying that the day before something is truly a breakthrough it’s a crazy idea,” Diamandis told the NRECA annual meeting, March 6.
“So where inside your organizations do you try crazy ideas?”
Over the years, Diamandis has held other X PRIZE competitions, including one to build the next generation of efficient vehicles.
At the annual meeting’s second general session, Diamandis discussed his newest endeavor, which involves Westminster, Colo.-based Tri-State G&T.
“We are partnering with Tri-State to create a competition that would reinvent how to capture carbon,” said Diamandis, adding that he was introduced to the G&T by officials at Sunflower Electric Power Corp., in Hays, Kan.
“This is a global issue,” he said—one that Diamandis believes can be solved through innovation.
“What if you could ask innovative teams around the world to figure out how to capture that CO2 and turn it into a profit center for the coal plant?” Diamandis asked. “What Tri-State is doing is literally providing a coal plant [where] entrepreneurs and do-it-yourself innovators can really tap into the smokestack.”
“The team that can capture 80 percent of the CO2 but still make a profit that can turn that CO2 and temperature into valuable products—I don’t know if it’s fertile soils or building materials, it doesn’t matter, we don’t have to know, because the money goes to the team that pulls it off,” Diamandis said.
“If you want to transform coal plants around the world, legislation isn’t enough,” he added. “It needs to be in their economic interest to do so, and this is a competition that can do that.”
Speaking to the electric co-op audience, Diamandis told them he is “proud this comes out of a cooperative, because the technology coming out of this is going to be made available to everyone.”
“This is an X PRIZE that once we launch it can change our planet.”
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