Boundary Dam project launched

Oct 03 2014

The world’s first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage process on a coal-fired power plant was officially opened at Boundary Dam Power Station in Estevan, Saskatchewan.

Premier Brad Wall, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford, Saskatchewan Economy Minister Bill Boyd, and SaskPower President and CEO Robert Watson officially opened the project. The launch was attended by more than 250 people from more than 20 countries representing governments, industries and media.

Shell Cansolv technology is being used to capture up to 90% of CO2 emissions from one train of the power plant. When fully optimized, SaskPower’s new process will capture up to a million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. The captured carbon dioxide will be used for enhanced oil recovery, with the remainder stored safely and permanently deep underground and continuously monitored. 

“Over the past six years, Saskatchewan has become a global hub of innovation, especially in agriculture, mining, oil and gas, and now carbon capture and storage,” Premier Wall said. “This project is another Saskatchewan first. The rest of the world is very interested to learn how they too can produce environmentally sustainable coal power.”

“The opening of this new SaskPower plant reinforces the great innovation and development that can take place if you have strong investment and partnerships from the government and industry,” said U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). “From my more than a decade working at Dakota Gasification in North Dakota, and from visiting the construction of the SaskPower facility just over a year ago, I understand just how important it is that we look to the future in how we harness our energy. Coal is a key resource in both Canada and the U.S., and through the development of clean coal technology, we can create North American independence and energy security, while also reducing emissions. We need to develop more clean coal plants to make that possible, and in the U.S., we can learn from the steps Canada has taken to find a realistic path forward for coal.”

“This project is important because it is applicable to about 95 per cent of the world’s coal plants,” Economy Minister Bill Boyd said. “As nations develop emission regulations, they will come to us to see how we continue to provide affordable coal power to customers, but in an environmentally sustainable way.”

Attendees at the event toured the facility and learned how they can access SaskPower’s expertise and knowledge to develop their own CCS initiatives.


Brad Page, CEO of the Global CCS Institute

“This trailblazing project clearly demonstrates that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is possible on a large-scale in the power sector. Importantly, the lessons learned at Boundary Dam will help progress CCS projects internationally as a vital technology to meet our climate change challenge,” said Mr Page. 

The CAN$1.35 billion power project is the first in the world to use post-combustion CCS technology on a coal-fired power plant at large scale. SaskPower’s CCS facility is estimated to capture 90% of emissions or 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. This is equivalent to taking more than 250,000 cars off the road.

“Capturing carbon from of our electricity generation system has the potential to provide the largest reductions in carbon emissions. Global forecasts predict fossil fuels will remain the world’s primary energy source for decades to come. We simply can’t have an effective response to tackling climate change without CCS,” warned Mr Page.

Mr Page said CCS on power has a strong start with two more large scale CCS projects in the power sector under construction in the United States – Southern Company’s Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi, and Petra Nova Capture Project in Texas.

Dr. Graeme Sweeney, Chairman of the Zero Emissions Platform

“We commend SaskPower and Canada for showing us all how it can be done. I believe that this event demonstrates that we are at the brink of a new era for CCS: we hope that Boundary Dam will help showcase to the rest of the world that full-scale commercial CCS is achievable and to kick start the development and deployment of this essential technology.”

This project is a trailblazer for industry around the world and timely as Europe engages in concrete and important discussions around European energy and climate policies. Boundary Dam is a great example showing what can be achieved when industry and government come together for such an important cause. Europe will closely follow the progress on Boundary Dam, especially in light of promising advancements on European-based projects such as White Rose and Peterhead in the UK, ROAD in the Netherlands, and others. EU institutions and Member States will need to put in place transitional support measures for CCS.

“This achievement not only shows what can be done but provides an opportunity for international cooperation. Working together will help drive the deployment of CCS and drive learning for this essential technology,”  

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, Scottish Carbon Capture Director
"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."

Luke Warren, CEO of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association

"The launch today goes beyond a single project. SaskPower has made significant progress in making a valuable contribution to demonstrating a viable technical, environmental and economic case for the application of CCS to power plants. It is hoped that Boundary Dam will form part of a much needed commercial proof point that the economics make sense."

"A recently released CCSA and TUC report, ‘The economic benefits of carbon capture and storage in the UK’ estimates that CCS could create a global market worth over £100 billion. The UK – with the North Sea providing a vast and untapped store of around 70 billion tonnes of CO2 and optimally located for the major emission intensive clusters of Europe – has a distinct competitive advantage when it comes to gaining a slice of this potentially lucrative market."

"From a UK perspective, we need examples of successful CCS more than ever. Boundary Dam highlights the need for Government to maintain momentum in delivering the CCS Commercialisation Programme and ensuring that a second phase of CCS projects are developed in parallel with the current competition projects. What is now urgently needed is a steady roll-out of projects to ensure that CCS becomes cost-competitive with other low-carbon technologies in the 2020s. The UK is world-leading in developing an enduring policy framework to support CCS alongside renewable and nuclear under the Electricity Market Reform programme but it is vital that the policy delivers real projects as soon as possible."

Boundary Dam shows us that CCS is ready to begin to be deployed now – and that there are clear benefits to the UK in pushing ahead with it. CCSA and the TUC estimate that the UK will need tens of power stations fitted with CCS by 2030 (not to mention additional industrial CCS facilities). Others around the world are already forging ahead – globally there are 22 large scale projects operating or under construction. Decisions taken now will determine whether the UK is able to benefit from this technology or whether we close the door on CCS as an option. With decisive action, these projects could deliver real benefits in a matter of years and form the foundations of a thriving UK CCS industry.


SaskPower Boundary Dam
Shell Cansolv

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