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Published January 25, 2023
A $500,000 gift by Peabody, a leading coal producer, to the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources (SER) will support innovation in the field of carbon engineering and carbon management. In addition to the initial gift, Peabody has made a sustaining commitment of 1 cent per ton of Wyoming coal sold by Peabody to support these efforts.
“Coal is an important resource supplying household energy and steel to communities around the world, and SER’s innovative research is developing technology that will make coal a more sustainable resource,” says Peabody President and CEO Jim Grech. “This partnership reflects our commitment to Wyoming and to our valued employees and their communities.”
The gift will create the Peabody Education, Innovation and Technology Fund to support SER’s pioneering solutions in carbon engineering, management, capture, utilization and storage, as well as reclamation, alternative coal uses, regulatory analysis and policy, and more. These technologies are important to reduce carbon emissions while also meeting the world’s energy needs.
“We are humbled by the generosity of Peabody,” says SER Executive Director Holly Krutka. “Wyoming coal is a tremendous resource for the state and nation. We’re grateful to have an industry partner who shares our vision that, through innovation, Wyoming coal can continue to serve a vital role in the energy sector and in Wyoming’s economy for generations to come.”
Peabody already has demonstrated a firm commitment to reducing emissions from its mining operations, as well as continuing to drive the development and adoption of low-emissions technologies.
In 2010, Peabody donated $2 million to SER to stimulate growth in applications to lower carbon emissions from coal use. This gift was matched by the Wyoming State Legislature, creating the Peabody Energy Advanced Coal Technology Laboratory in the Energy Innovation Center on the UW campus.
The gift also provided the foundation for the Center for Carbon Capture and Conversion. It made possible innovation in new uses for coal -- including a first-of-a-kind coal refinery that will generate feedstock for myriad products. SER and its collaborators across UW have developed a wide range of coal-derived products, including building and construction materials, asphalt, paving and roofing materials, and agricultural soil amendments.
“The world has ambitious sustainability goals, and the impressive work researchers at SER are doing is critical to achieving those goals,” Grech says. “We are proud to be a leader in supporting this research and grateful for the work SER is doing.”
Peabody is keenly interested in SER-led work in carbon management, particularly in carbon capture, utilization and storage -- a field in which the company has been involved for many years and in which SER and UW are recognized leaders. The financial support from Peabody will allow SER to expand work in this area with a particular focus on supporting carbon capture, utilization and storage of Wyoming coal.
“We are fortunate to have a visionary partner in Peabody,” says UW Foundation Director for Corporate Engagement Angela Ver Ploeg. “Understanding the potential for the work being done at the School of Energy Resources, Peabody stepped forward with a first-of-its-kind gift, which will accelerate the important research being done to keep coal a valuable resource for years to come. We are so grateful for their commitment to ongoing support for this important work.”
Peabody is the world’s largest producer and reserve holder of coal in the Powder River Basin, with 2.3 billion tons in reserves. The Powder River Basin is the largest coal-producing region in the United States, producing more than 40 percent of the nation’s coal and providing fuel for 300 coal-fired electric-generating units from coast to coast.
The company’s North Antelope Rochelle Mine in northeast Wyoming is one of the most productive mines in the world and supplies some of the lowest-sulfur coal in North America. Nearly 20 percent of the company’s global workforce is based in Wyoming at the North Antelope Rochelle Mine, the Caballo Mine and the Rawhide Mine.
Peabody’s latest commitment will cultivate other important research avenues that will ultimately help achieve net-zero emission goals and expand markets for Wyoming coal, Krutka says.
“Wyoming has already established itself as a leader in terms of coal technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and storage, and carbon engineering,” Krutka adds. “This gift will help us expand and accelerate our efforts for the benefit of Wyoming and its coal sector.”