ExxonMobil funds habitat research in Colorado
Can Colorado’s native plants and animals live in harmony with expanding energy production in the state? Colorado State University and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) are working on a comprehensive study of potential impacts of natural gas development on wildlife and their habitats, and are working to enhance mitigation measures to reduce any identified impacts.
XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, contributed nearly $5 million to support the ongoing research, which is being conducted on both private and public land in the Piceance Creek Basin in Western Colorado.
The impacts of energy production have been found to be typically species-specific and system-specific, creating an important need for customized investigations and greater collaboration between researchers, regulators and industry. The research is at the epicenter of wildlife issues in the state, and was the focus at The Colorado Chapter of The Wildlife Society's 2014 Annual Winter Meeting in Fort Collins.
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The studies are led by the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology and Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship in CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources and in collaboration with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. XTO Energy’s funding has supported more than 20 researchers (seven faculty, nine graduate students, and five CPW scientists) working on 12 projects, all aimed at improving natural resource management practices for wildlife and habitat in areas alongside natural gas production.
XTO Energy has a significant presence in Colorado and more than 250 employees in Denver, Durango, Rifle, and Trinidad.
The partnered research focuses on improving natural resource management strategies for native mule deer and greater sage-grouse populations in particular as well as their habitats. The teams of researchers and wildlife managers are working to provide answers to conservation questions such as:
- What measures can best mitigate the impacts of natural gas development on mule deer behavior?
- Do deer become tolerant to natural gas production impacts over time?
- Which greater sage-grouse population monitoring methods are most accurate and efficient?
- How can we improve recommendations to conserve greater sage-grouse in this population?
- Will mechanical habitat improvements near development activities successfully improve deer condition and site fidelity, and what techniques are best to increase mule deer forage?
- Does mechanical habitat manipulation affect small mammal and songbird communities?
- Does natural gas development affect neonatal mule deer survival?
Preliminary results from a mule deer behavior study utilizing GPS collars indicates that deer avoid well pads during drilling, the most active phase of development. Ongoing analyses will compare movements in different phases of natural gas development as well as habitat modifications to identify potential changes in mule deer behavior, and aid in development of mitigation measures.
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.