|SaskPower's Boundary Dam power plant in Saskatchewan|
It has been the most anticipated carbon capture and storage (CCS) project on the planet, and today it claims its place as the world's first large-scale project to capture CO₂ from a coal-fired power plant.
Boundary Dam is the flagship project of SaskPower, a Canadian utility company with around half a million customers across the province of Saskatchewan. The C$1.35 billion project sees the integration of a coal-fired power unit with amine capture technology. The capture plant has, in fact, been capturing CO₂ since late September, but today sees the start of operations to pipe the greenhouse gas to Cenovus Energy's oilfields for use in enhanced oil recovery operations – thereby completing the CCS chain.
The significance of Boundary Dam's start-up is huge. It is a shot in the arm for an industry that is struggling to realise even a fifth of the International Energy Agency's (IEA) roadmap target of 100 CCS projects by 2020, if the international community is to meet crucial emissions reductions. Large-scale demonstration projects, such as Boundary Dam, are needed to prove the viability of CCS to policymakers, investors and the public alike. They are also crucial if the IEA is correct in its prediction that coal will overtake oil as the world's leading energy source by 2017.
Professor Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, who is in Canada for SaskPower's CCS Symposium, said:
The Boundary Dam CCS Project is a global first and its impact will create ripples worldwide. SaskPower is – right now – demonstrating for the first time that brown coal can be used to generate electricity with only one quarter of the carbon emissions of natural gas and one tenth of the emissions caused by burning coal historically. The CO₂ captured here has a commercial value, and the project demonstrates improved energy security through enhanced oil production. The Canadian province of Saskatchewan has delivered.
Boundary Dam is working proof for naysayers, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that full-scale CCS on power generation now exists and works commercially to deliver electricity, with no subsidy. We can expect more commercial CCS projects to follow in North America within two years, and China plans to move from its 20 pilots and demonstrations to multiple commercial projects by 2017.
Scaling up the technology for power plants in China and Poland is now possible, and there are more than ten vendors of CCS equipment globally. SaskPower has predicted that its next CCS project in Saskatchewan will cost 30% less than Boundary Dam. Europe should take note: the continent lacks a pipeline of CCS projects and will lag behind in technology development, and in the delivery of secure, flexible energy. It will also fail to protect the interests of energy-intensive industries if the CCS ship sails without it."
The Boundary Dam project will capture around one million tonnes of CO₂ each year from the power plant's Unit 3. Any CO₂ not used in enhanced oil recovery will be stored at the Aquistore project, a CO₂ storage research and monitoring project in south-east Saskatchewan.
SaskPower's intended project goals include reducing CO₂ emissions at Boundary Dam by one million tonnes per year; proving the economic, technical and environmental feasibility of coal-fired power generation with CCS; and support for the development of industry-wide CCS regulations and policies.
SaskPower’s Boundary Dam CCS Project