Monolith, NPPD move forward on repowering a Sheldon coal unit

Monolith Materials said Oct. 18 that it will officially break ground on its U.S. manufacturing headquarters on Oct. 20 in Hallam, Nebraska.

Monolith founders Bill Brady, Rob Hanson and Pete Johnson will be joined by Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Pat Pope, CEO of the Nebraska Public Power District, to give remarks before a ceremonial groundbreaking event.

“Monolith is thrilled to support the growth and strength of American manufacturing, clean technology and job growth right here in America’s heartland,” said Brady. “We chose this location because of Nebraska’s exceptional infrastructure and highly skilled workforce, and look forward to building a great company here.”

Headquartered with an R&D facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, Monolith is advancing innovative carbon black technology that uses natural gas as feedstock instead of oil. Carbon black is a common material found in thousands of products – including tires, rubber and plastics, printing inks, and batteries. A co-product of its innovative manufacturing technology is hydrogen, a fuel that produces zero greenhouse gas emissions when burned.

Monolith has partnered with NPPD to replace an existing coal-fired boiler with a hydrogen-fired boiler at NPPD’s Sheldon Station plant in Hallam, Neb. The new boiler will generate 125 MW. The boiler conversion is also expected to result in a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gasses and other types of emissions.

“Our partnership with Monolith Materials is a unique combination of innovation, environmental sustainability, and economic development for the area and the state,” said NPPD’s Pope. “The ability of public power to respond in making this opportunity happen, utilizing our competitive low rates and our economic development rate, is important for Nebraska. At the same time, NPPD has the opportunity to have 50 percent of our energy resources to be carbon-free in the future. We look forward to our continued working relationship with Monolith Materials.”

Monolith is backed by Azimuth Capital Management and Warburg Pincus, two of the most widely respected private equity firms in North America.

Working in partnership with the state’s rural public power districts, cooperatives and municipalities, NPPD helps serve an estimated 600,000 Nebraskans in 86 of the state’s 93 counties with retail or wholesale electric power and energy-related products and services.

NPPD had first announced this Sheldon repowering in April 2015. The NPPD website says the repowering is due for completion in 2019. Sheldon Station is a coal-fired plant that was constructed between 1958 and 1963 as an experimental nuclear power plant. The nuclear portion of the facility was later decommissioned. Sheldon Station’s two current boilers can generate 225 MW. 

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.