3MW LLC

Vessels operates 3 Mega Watts of electricity generation from methane emissions equivalent to removing over 90,000 cars off the road.

3MW LLC is a company operated by Vessels Carbon Solutions Inc. that has installed electrical generation capacity to deliver 3 megawatts of electricity generated from methane emissions from now abandoned coal mines to Holy Cross Energy. To our knowledge the facility is the first in the USA west of the Mississippi to generate electricity from methane emissions from coal mines. The gas from the mines has variable methane concentrations of around 30%-90%.  The rest of the gas is mostly air from the atmosphere.  This is because the mine area is in communication with the atmosphere through numerous manmade and naturally occurring pathways which allows air to enter the mine and methane to escape.  Methane weighs less than air so when the atmospheric pressure rises air tends to enter the mined area and methane tends emit when the atmospheric pressure falls.  The mine gas is too contaminated with air to be shipped into a natural gas pipeline were one present at the mine (there is no pipeline for many miles).  Electricity generation is the only means the energy value of this dilute methane gas can be put to beneficial use while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Holy Cross provided a market for the electricity and Aspen Skiing Company provided the majority of the financial resources necessary to build the power station. Oxbow Mining LLC, Gunnison Energy and Vessels Carbon Solutions Inc. contributed rights to the methane used by 3MW LLC to generate electricity.

Operational results as of December 31 2018:

  • Estimated emission reductions of 1,944,302 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e).
  • 142,524 Mega Watts of electricity eligible for the Colorado Renewable Portfolio.
  • 303,432 Air Resource Board Offset Credits.
  • 1.3 billion cubic feet of methane emissions captured.
  • Estimated 25 million cubic feet of Volatile Organic Compounds emissions captured.
  • The CO2 emissions captured are equivalent to the emissions from the generation of:
    • 1,700,000 Mega Watts of electricity from coal.
    • 5,000,000 Mega Watts of electricity from natural gas.
    • 400,000 automobiles driving daily for over a year.

The project has continued to generate electricity while adapting to changing conditions and gas quality.

“Baseline Emissions” is a term that refers to the total methane fugitive emissions from the mine abandoned or active that were captured by the project.  This number is represented in tCO2e.

“Project Emissions” refers to the amount of CO2 emissions and uncombusted methane created by the methane destruction project.  The combustion of methane either from a generator or a combustor creates CO2 and water.

“Emission Reductions” refer to the total climate benefit achieved by the project measured in tCO2e using the IPCC fifth assessment report, and a 20-year global warming potential of methane.  Emission reductions equals total emissions captured up to the baseline emissions minus the project emissions.

Emission Reduction Summary Report using IPCC AR5 20 years GWP metric tons of CO2 equivalent:

Baseline Emissions(what would have occurred without the carbon capture) 2,148,400
Projects Emissions (emissions from the carbon capture project) -204,098
Emission Reductions 1,944,3002

Time Line:

2019 Verification of 2018 methane capture.
2018 Scheduled engine overhauls are made.
2018 Renovation of project to adjust to abandoned mine methane operation vs. earlier active mine methane operation.
2018 Colorado Public Utilities Commission approves electricity generated since 2012 eligible for Colorado Renewable Energy Standard.1
2017 Vessels and North Fork Energy transfer Air Resource Board Offset Credits to Holy Cross attributable to electricity sales.
2016 Mine officially closed.
2014 First year of near normal electricity operations.
2014 Mining is discontinued.
2013 Electricity generation facility completed with interruptions during spontaneous combustion recurrence.
2013 Remaining two electricity generators are installed and begin operating.
2013 Vessels presents project to Public Utility Commissioners.2
2012 Spontaneous Combustion in the Elk Creek Mine interrupts operations and build out of complete electricity generation facility.
2012 The project was commissioned with the first electrical generator.3
2012 Early Action project listed with California Air Resources Board.
2012 Holy Cross and Vessels transfer Power Purchase Agreement to 3MW.
2012 Aspen Skiing Company, Gunnison, OXBOW and Vessels agree on 3MW LLC formation and transfer certain rights to 3MW LLC.
2011 Early Action Climate Action Reserve carbon offset project including 3MW methane destruction.
2011 OXBOW Mining, Gunnison Energy, Vessels execute North Fork Energy LLC.
2011 Holy Cross Energy and Vessels execute Power Purchase Agreement for 3 MW.
2010 OXBOW Mining, Gunnison Energy, Vessels agree in principal on electric generation project.
2010 Holy Cross Energy and Vessels agree in principal to PPA.

1 In 2018 The Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved the electricity generated through 2017 as eligible for the Colorado Renewable Portfolio.

December 6, 2018.
Decision No. R18-1092
BEFORE THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF COLORADO
PROCEEDING NO. 18A-0444E
IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF 3 MW LLC FOR A COMMISSION FINDING
THAT THE ELECTRICITY GENERATED BY THE ELK CREEK 3 MW POWER PROJECT
IS GREENHOUSE GAS NEUTRAL PURSUANT TO § 40-2-124(1)(A)(IV), C.R.S., AND ISN ELIGIBLE ENERGY RESOURCE FOR THE RENEWABLE ENERGY STANDARD
PURSUANT TO § 40-2-124(1)(A), C.R.S.

Services Drawing

2 July 9, 2013  Presentation to PUC Commissioners . March14-2013-MAKMuir-GlobalMethaneExpo-CoalTechnicalSession
3 2012 Aspen Ski Company's video of the commissioning ceremony of the 3MW electric generation facility.
3 http://vimeo.com/53614122 - Digital copy of the tour handout of the 3MW electric generation facility.
3 Photo tour hand out - Research paper by Amy Crowfoot on Elk Creek Generator Project.
Crowfoot_Final - Methane to electricity: Global Methane Expo Coal Technical Session.