Carbon Valley

Wyoming Public Media

Following the race to develop an unlikely climate solution. Leaders in Wyoming have a plan to revive coal: jumpstart a young, controversial technology called carbon capture. To plant the seed, the state is hosting an international competition pitting five start-ups against each other for a grand prize. Can they figure out how to future-proof coal—or is this just false hope for the town that powered America?

Carbon Valley Trailer
Trailer 4 min 15 sec

All Episodes

Leaders in Wyoming have a plan to revive coal: jumpstart a young, controversial technology called carbon capture. To plant the seed, the state is hosting an international competition pitting five start-ups against each other for a grand prize. Can they figure out how to future-proof coal—or is this just false hope for the town that powered America?

Mar 9

4 min 15 sec

Coal is on its last legs. In the coal capital of the country, in the least-populated state in the union, leaders had to make a move. So, they turned to a silver bullet and brought in a $20 million competition to jumpstart a new era for coal country. Along the way, an unlikely ally emerges: a skateboarding environmentalist.

E

Mar 16

36 min 52 sec

We take a drive north across the Wyoming prairie to visit the research center that's been dubbed a "glimmer of hope" for coal country. There, we meet the XPRIZE competitors for the first time and learn what's at stake for them. And we start to wonder--could the confidence behind carbon capture be premature?

Mar 30

49 min 59 sec

The finalists' confidence begins to crack as they're faced with the reality of setting up demonstrations in just a few months. How do their challenges stack up to those industry-wide? Also, we learn Jason and Dimensional Energy may be at more of a disadvantage than we even realized.

Apr 13

46 min 41 sec

Cooper must abruptly leave Wyoming for an unexpected trip home. But there's no break in reporting on coal country: another coal-fired power plant has been scheduled for closure, spelling doom for Kemmerer, Wyoming. Loss tangles with hope--but is it false hope? Dedicated to Larry McKim.

Apr 27

48 min 3 sec

It's the summer of 2019. Two more coal companies have filed for bankruptcy, and hundreds of workers are left in the lurch. Meanwhile, Jason Salfi is relieved to find out the Carbon XPRIZE has been delayed. But, how does Jason's drive for this technology square with Wyoming's own? Has he faced any struggles that would help him empathize with coal country's sense of loss?

E

May 11

46 min 33 sec

As we work on Part 6 of Carbon Valley, we're excited to present an episode of Worldview Stanford's Generation Anthropocene. Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton tells us the story of how he became "The Soundtracker," an unorthodox career choice that has led him around the planet three times in pursuit of the last pristine soundscapes. Journey along with Hempton from tropical jungles to the frozen North as he records the music from the solar-powered jukebox that is Earth.

May 25

50 min 27 sec

Cooper can't wait any longer to see carbon capture utilization technology, so he makes a slightly abnormal reporting trip... across the country. He wants to see how Jason's team is faring. Are they actually ready to set up a large-scale demonstration soon? What challenges do an early-stage startup truly face? And most importantly, will Cooper survive an encounter with a very large rabbit?

Jun 8

53 min 24 sec

Dimensional Energy is at a crossroads with the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE: can they afford to stay in? Their situation raises larger questions about the value of grand challenges. It turns out, not everyone is on board with prize competitions as a strategy to move technology forward.

Jun 23

50 min 46 sec

The pandemic wreaks havoc on the Carbon XPRIZE - it turns out, additional delays won't be the only impact. Upon arriving in Gillette, Cooper is in for a major surprise. Plus, things start to get competitive between the teams on site.

E

Jul 7

52 min 14 sec

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE winner is finally announced. Will it be Dimensional Energy? Meanwhile, Cooper returns to Gillette to learn whether a Carbon Valley has magically appeared. Interviewing people at the local Walmart and meeting former miners with new visions provide the answer - and a way forward.

E

Jul 20

55 min 42 sec