The Canadian province of Saskatchewan jumped into the forefront of the carbon capture technology debate today as it signed off on a $1.24 billion CAD project being developed by regional power provider SaskPower. This project reportedly will “transform an aging generating unit at Boundary Dam Power Station near Estevan into a producer of reliable, clean electricity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by approximately one million tonnes per year.”
The project, which is also being given $240 million by Canada’s federal government to assist in getting it off the ground, will begin construction immediately. An estimated start date sometime in 2014 will see the carbon capture venture having the capacity to generate 110 megawatts (MW) of electricity. In addition, it will also capture sulfur dioxide (SO2) to be used in the production of sulphuric acid.
It is believed this project will spur hundreds of construction jobs, according to SaskPower, during the build out phase. Cansolv, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shell Global Solutions, will supply the carbon capture process. Hitachi will supply a state-of-the-art steam turbine – the first in the world designed to fully integrate a coal-fired power plant with carbon capture technology.
Carbon capture technology, while hailed by the U.S. government and others as a means to an end for getting cleaner energy out of existing CO2 emitting coal plants, is certainly not without its controversies. The government of Saskatchewan seems comfortable with its decision, however, noting that this technology “will help to address climate change while ensuring that we can continue to use coal as an energy source for many years to come.”
The Boundary Dam Power Station is described as being SaskPower’s largest generating facility, with six units and a combined generating capacity of 824 MW. The company’s three coal-fired power plants account for approximately 50 per cent of its generating capacity of 3,513 MW. The carbon capture technology, when applied at this facility, reportedly will cut CO2 emissions equal to taking more than 250,000 vehicles off Saskatchewan roads each year, while also offering the capture of carbon dioxide for “enhanced oil recovery.”