Around 1,300 attendees gathered at the Bismarck Event Center Wednesday for day two of the 43rd annual Energy Progress and Innovation Conference (EPIC).

The goal is to energize individuals through education and networking, and the keynote speaker brought an important conversation into the mix.

Mike Nasi gave a speech on the outlook on U.S. energy reliability by focusing on last February’s winter storm in Texas that brought rolling blackouts all the way to North Dakota. Nasi says the causes of the five-day Texas blackout are multi-faceted and should not be solely blamed on renewables.

However, the Texas grid was not built to have a third of its energy coming from renewables which disappeared during the historic winter storm.

Nasi says regional grids should avoid putting too many renewables on their systems and should instead focus on carbon-reducing technologies for reliable dispatchable energies such as coal and natural gas.

“The real question is with so many people driving toward renewables because they’re worried about carbon dioxide, North Dakota is really at the epicenter of being able to commercialize technology so that people don’t have to sacrifice dispatchability and reliability, they can actually have a carbon answer for those wanting to drive to zero carbon future or at least a reduced carbon future and have technologies that can actually maintain the resilience of the grid,” he said.

Nasi says with the global south and developing world using exponentially more coal to power their evolution, North Dakota could be a leader in selling affordable carbon capture technologies to those countries.