SaskPower to roll out world’s first carbon capture-embedded power plant | Financial Post (external - login to view)
Carbon capture storage may be unproven and expensive, but the technology appears set for its global premiere when SaskPower unveils the world’s first power plant-CCS installation at Estevan, Sask. within the next few months.
The $1.35-billion Boundary Dam Carbon Capture Project, backed by $240-million of federal funding, will see a rebuilt coal-fired plant at Boundary Dam Unit 3 embedded with a unit that sequesters carbon dioxide emissions that can either be stored in a deep well or sold.
“The capture facility is completed and it’s ready to go,” Robert Watson, president and chief executive officer of Crown-incorporated SaskPower told the Financial Post during a visit to Toronto.
This is new ground not just for SaskPower but also the wider global power industry with CCS seen as a promising way to cut CO2 emissions. Companies from across the world will be tuning in to see whether SaskPower’s gamble will pay off where others have failed.
Saskatchewan will also be the first province hit by new federal regulations that state that all coal-burning power plants over 50 years old must either be shut down or converted to emit 420 tonnes or less CO2 per gigwatt hour by July 2015. The company’s Boundary Dam 2 would have fallen foul of the law, but the company intends to close it. Eight more Canadian plants will be affected by the rule by 2019 and another 16 by 2029, data from the Pembina Institute shows.
Boundary Dam Unit 3 currently emits 1,100 tonnes of CO2 per gigawatt-hour, but after a carbon capture upgrade, the plant’s environmental footprint will fall to 140-150 tonnes.
SaskPower will sell one million tonne of CO2 a year to Cenovus Inc. under an initial 10-year agreement at an undisclosed price. The Calgary-based oil sands producer will ship the liquid CO2 via a pipeline to a CCS facility in nearby Weyburn where it will be used to pump oil out of mature wells.
SaskPower has a few advantages as the Boundary Dam project sits on a coal mine with a 300-year-reserve, but it may also be sitting on a technological goldmine. The company owns the design and construction of the CCS project that can be franchised to companies across the world.