The Faces of Carbon Valley: Jason Begger

Jason Begger has led the Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC) as managing director since its formation in 2015. The center provides space for researchers to test Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration (CCUS) technologies. Read more about Begger’s role at Wyoming ITC and how the center helps support jobs, local and state economies, and plays a key role in commercializing carbon management technologies to help the world achieve its carbon goals.

Q: As managing director of the Wyoming Integrated Test Center, what is your area of focus?

Begger: I have the privilege of coordinating the array of contractors working on every aspect of the facility. While I’m not an engineer or involved in the technical aspects, I’ve learned enough about carbon capture technologies over the years to work with our technical leads and Basin Electric to ensure the facility operates safely and efficiently. I also dip my toe into the administrative aspects, developing the budget, managing funds and negotiating leases to research tenants. I probably spend the most time on outreach and business development. That entails working with government officials as well as prospective research tenants. We learned early on that you don’t just swing open the gates and flip on the open sign. A lot of work goes into identifying projects that align with the facility and advertising the ITC’s capabilities to the right audience.

Q: Can you provide details of your organization’s work in coal-to-product research or carbon capture reuse? How does your work benefit the Carbon Valley region in Campbell County and Gillette?

Begger: The ITC can be thought of as a blank canvas for post-combustion carbon capture research. We don’t develop technologies but rather provide a place for the most promising projects to scale up from a laboratory setting to a size that offers commercial certainty. For a carbon capture system to be successful, a utility needs to install and operate it. However, technologies must first be successfully demonstrated at a large enough scale. The ITC is the largest facility of its kind in the world, providing coal flue gas for testing. If we’re able to scale up technologies that can be used in coal plants all over the world, that will help ensure the jobs in the mining and support service industries for many more years. One ton of coal provides significant tax revenue to Gillette, Campbell County and the State of Wyoming. Not to mention the thousands of jobs the coal industry supports.

Q: How do you believe the work coming out of the Carbon Valley will benefit the nation as a whole?

Begger: We are seeing more and more warnings each year about the potential for electricity shortages across the country, which, unfortunately, we saw come to fruition with the 2021 blackout in Texas. A big reason for these shortages is in the name of lower carbon emissions. We’ve closed reliable coal plants that can operate 24/7 with intermittent energy sources. If we can successfully deploy technologies that can remove CO2 from coal plants, we can keep the most reliable electricity producers running while addressing societal concerns regarding carbon emissions.

Q: Where do you see the Carbon Valley 10 years from now?

Begger: Hopefully, we’ll see an area with several different research facilities and see commercial companies setting up operations as a direct result of the R&D performed at those facilities. The community is setting things up with an eye toward expansion, and I hope those planning efforts can help drive R&D and encourage new businesses to remain after the initial research.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Begger: With two small children, free time is a wish! But when time allows, I enjoy woodworking, golf and spending time outdoors.

Q: What is your favorite part about living and working in Wyoming specifically?

Begger: Cheyenne is home for me, and the community does a great job hosting events throughout the year. Cheyenne Frontier Days is always a highlight, plus summer weather in Wyoming is pretty hard to beat!