CH2M Hill, a recognized leader in facilities engineering and renewable energy projects, will “vision” the 640-acre project with IDC Architects.
Craig Harrison, president of Harrison Resources, has conducted 21 feasibility studies on the project and is excited to be moving forward with his dream.
His Greenfield location is a bit “out there,” both in terms of concept and geography. But he’s convinced it will work.
A similar project, Star Peak, is underway in Nevada.
“That project is 115 miles away from the labor pool,” he said. “I’m just 30 miles away.”
His Niobrara Energy Park is located between Cheyenne, Wyo. and Fort Collins, Colo.
The idea is to develop data centers and cloud computing companies at the site, which will draw their energy from a micro-grid powered with renewable energy sources, including solar, wind and geothermal. But it will all be backed up with a natural gas-powered electricity plant.
“That’s the clean energy source that will firm up the alternatives,” Harrison said.
The project got zoning approval in August and has wide support from major financial investors and politicians.
Sen. Mark Udall called the location “private energy island.”
The plan for the project is expected to generate more than $1.2 billion in economic activity, Harrison said.
“The sun is shining on that land every day,” he said. “And there’s already a wind farm just four miles upstream.”
The location is ideal for clean and renewable energy production.
“We’ve had a lot of big honking companies look at this project and say it’s pretty interesting,” Harrison said.
As data storage and cloud computing become bigger and bigger industries, businesses in those fields will be looking for new locations. They often need a lot of space, and they always need reliable, consistent and affordable power.
The advantage of a micro-grid like the Niobrara Energy Park is that if the power goes out on the main grid, the micro-grid will go right on ticking, Harrison said.
He’s looking forward to working with CH2M Hill, a Denver-based company credited with developing the first computer chip factory and with significant design work on the sustainable Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates.
“I think we will look back on this announcement as a milestone in the project,” Harrison said.
Pictured: An artist’s rendering of the site.