SaskPower Carbon Capture and Storage Goes Online Late, Over Budget

I must print a “correction” to my piece in April when I reported that the SaskPower CCS plant was on time and online.
The plant went online late last month, two seasons after it was scheduled, to deal with an apparently surprise asbestos attack.

While the final costs are still being calculated, Mr. Watson acknowledged the project is over budget. Last fall, that overage was pegged at $115-million, or 9 per cent.

“The project aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by one million tonnes annually, which amounts to about 90 per cent of the emissions from the plant.”

I’m frankly surprised this went online at all. Romney’s claim that the US needs more “clean coal” is really hilarious in light of this news of the first clean coal plant being built in Canada years later. Too bad the $1,400,000,000 was spent on CCS instead of solar panels and windmills. Now that the money has been spent though, let’s hope it isn’t a complete waste.

Here’s an interesting set of comments, one from some “guy”:
“The statement that “SaskPower has plans to sell the liquefied CO2 to the oil industry” is misleading. SaskPower has had a contract with Cenovus Energy to sell them the CO2 since the project was approved. There is no “storage” of the CO2 – they sell it to Cenovus to be used in CO2 Assisted Enhanced Oil Recovery. There has been a shortage of CO2 in the oil industry for years and that is what is driving this technology, not climate change. It’s a $240M federal subsidy to the oil industry, and our power bills increased because of it. One of the people attending this international conference has actually admitted to me the terms “storage” or “sequestration” are for, as he put it, “public relations.” We sent a man to the moon in the ’60s but we can’t figure out large scale clean energy in the 21st century. ”

“MikeTrites:
@guy the CO2 is/was likely to be used for fracking…. However the frackers have switched from C02 to liquid Nitrogen. Should be interesting seeing the future of this project.”

6 responses to “SaskPower Carbon Capture and Storage Goes Online Late, Over Budget

  1. Ian Bickis , The Canadian Press
    Published Tuesday, June 23, 2015 6:21PM CST

    As the government of Alberta considers how to shift away from plans to capture and store carbon, the head of a similar program in Saskatchewan has one word of advice: don’t.

    Mike Monea, president of carbon capture initiatives at the provincial utility SaskPower, said carbon capture and storage, which involves trapping carbon dioxide and pumping it into the ground, is essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    “In a simplistic way some people say, ‘Well, just get rid of fossil fuels and go to renewables.’ Well, that’s absolutely impractical,” said Monea.

    “What we’re saying is keep fossil fuels in the mix but reduce its emission, make a very low emission product, and that’s what we’re doing.

    “So to stop that or to stop funding that kind of technology is going to be harmful.”

    One of the Alberta NDP’s election commitments was to end what it called the “costly and ineffective carbon capture and storage experiment” and reinvest this year’s share of funds allocated for the technology into public transit.

    Since getting elected, the government hasn’t explained how it plans to follow through on that commitment. Matthew Williamson, a spokesman for the province’s energy minister, said in an email that the government will announce details in the coming months.

    Previous Alberta governments committed to spending $1.3 billion over 15 years on two projects — Enhance Energy Inc.’s Alberta Carbon Trunk Line, which would capture carbon from a fertilizer plant and an upgrader, and Royal Dutch Shell’s Quest project, which would trap carbon from the company’s Scotford upgrader.

    The projects under development are both scheduled to start operating by the end of next year, after which they’re expected to reduce the province’s emissions by 2.76 million tonnes a year, the equivalent of taking 550,000 cars off the road.

    So far the projects are unaffected, with Shell spokesman Cameron Yost saying in an email that all aspects of the Quest project and agreements including funding are proceeding as planned.

    But going forward, the NDP has indicated it will take a much broader approach to reducing emissions by including energy efficiency, renewable energy and carbon pricing.

    Duncan Kenyon, program director of unconventional oil and gas at the Pembina Institute, says carbon pricing would let the government still encourage capturing carbon without public funds.

    “You create a price for carbon and you start to address some of the economic issues,” said Kenyon. “Instead of providing $750 million to one project, you might have a lot more value in creating a stronger carbon policy.”

    Kenyon said that capturing, transporting and storing carbon now costs somewhere between $60 and $90 a tonne, but costs drop if that captured carbon is put to work in enhanced oil recovery, where carbon dioxide can be used to force more oil out of the ground.

    Add in a carbon price, and the economics could start to make sense, he said.

    “At the end of the day, you could probably have a $30 to $50 carbon price and you’d see traction on action.”

    Meanwhile, Saskatchewan is forging ahead with its publicly-funded projects to capture carbon. Just last week, the province opened a $70-million facility to test new carbon capturing techniques.

    The test lab sits next to Boundary Dam, where last year SaskPower finished a $1.5-billion refit to one of the coal-powered generators to build one of the first large-scale carbon capture and storage facilities in the world.

    Monea said the plant is on track to capture a million tonnes of carbon this year, and SaskPower will soon start to look into tripling the carbon capture capacity at Boundary Dam by refitting other units at the plant.

    • Ugh, SaskPower is so out of touch. The CCS project is giving tax money to capture carbon so the oil industry can pump more oil and turn a profit on our dime. It’s great that carbon is being re-stored in the earth, but #LeaveItInTheGround is happening, and we need to build practical renewable energy for us this decade. Multiple people, who are very smart, say it’s practical and I believe them.

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