NPPD has partnered with Central Valley Ag to embark on a two-year pilot program exploring the potential to sequester carbon into Nebraska’s agricultural fields. If proven successful, it’s not just an advantage to conscientious local farmers, but it could be one part of an overall solution that can help NPPD manage its total yearly carbon emissions by offsetting carbon from its fossil fuel plants.
Carbon sequestration is the process of converting atmospheric carbon to a stable organic form in the soil. Plants sequester carbon by photosynthesis fixation of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Small increases in soil carbon over very large areas can significantly reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide.
It’s a concept worth exploring, especially as the topic of decarbonization becomes more prevalent and scads of industries and businesses pledge to become carbon-neutral by 2050. Nationally, legislative mandates and environmental regulations could play an important role in the direction of the future movement.
“Just as NPPD’s generation mix is diverse to keep rates low and energy reliable, we are taking an ‘all of the above’ approach toward managing our carbon emissions rates that includes looking for the right mix of technologies and processes that will further our efforts to achieve sustainability in our everyday operations and energy solutions,” said Director of Generation Strategies and Research John Swanson.
Throughout the two-year project, NPPD will work alongside Central Valley Ag (CVA), a farmer-owned cooperative headquartered in York with 15 million tillable acres among its member-owners. The pilot will cover 5,000 of those acres, including both dryland and irrigated land in Nebraska. Using field measurements and scientific modeling, it will give CVA and NPPD a means to quantify the effectiveness of such practices for carbon sequestration, possibly leading to carbon credits that could be acquired across diversified fields to offset the District’s carbon emissions. NPPD may even be able to utilize Paige Wireless’ low-cost, nonproprietary LoRaWan network to collect and evaluate data.
Indeed, the pilot has the potential to bring long-lasting benefits and influential partnerships to the state in three unique ways.
“First, it provides ag producers with an additional source of income,” said NPPD Generation Strategies Senior Project Manager Jedd Fischer. “Second, it protects the environment through CO2 management. And, third, it allows NPPD’s customers the affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity they deserve.”