Few noticed, but the seeds for the coal industry’s survival and the utility industry’s ability to keep coal-fired capacity in its generation portfolio were sown in the past couple of months.
One of those seeds was the official opening Oct. 2 of SaskPower’s Boundary Dam integrated carbon capture control project in Estevan, Saskatchewan. The project will capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide generated at the 110 megawatt facility, an estimated 1 million metric tons annually (as well as 90 percent of the facility’s sulfur dioxide emissions), using Shell Oil’s Cansolv process. The CO2 is being sold to Cenovus, a Calgary-based oil company, which will be using it in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations at the Weyburn field in the southern portion of the province. A portion of the captured CO2 also will be piped to SaskPower’s nearby research facility where it will be injected about two miles underground in a brine-filled sandstone formation to prove that deep storage is a safe, workable alternative. That portion of the project will be overseen by Canada’s Petroleum Technology Research Center (PTRC).
The project has a $1.4 billion price tag, but the utility is quick to note that the CCS portion is just $600 million, with the remainder going to refurbish the aging power plant and install the SO2 controls. The Canadian government contributed $240 million to the project.