Aspen Ski Co. harnesses methane from coal plant for energy
November 16, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Another ski area has harnessed the power of methane to create electricity — but this time, much less manure is involved.
Aspen Ski Co. has partnered with Elk Creek coal mine, Holy Cross Energy and Vessels Coal Gas to harness the methane gas vented from the coal mine in Somerset.
The mine typically would vent the methane — a greenhouse gas that is more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat the in atmosphere — to protect the safety of the mine workers. By capturing the previously wasted gas, the 3 megawatt project can produce about the same amount of energy Aspen Ski Co. uses in a season: 24 million kilowatt hours, according to the ski company.
In a report on sustainability efforts, the company states that the project eliminates three times as much greenhouse pollution — in the form of methane — as the resort produces each year.
The switched was flipped on the generator Nov. 9, and power from a truck engine burning methane from the mine began to hit the utility grid.
Aspen Ski Co. reports that it invested $5.5 million in the project.