Canada Launches World Premier Carbon Capture & Storage Site

Published on November 26th, 2014 | by

CCS system at canadas saskpower boundary dam powerplantCanada’s Boundary Dam power station just helped the world reach a historic milestone along the way to achieving a low-carbon future. With SaskPower’s announcement of the world’s first large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) system completion, the International Energy Agency (IEA) offered congratulations.

Saskatchewan, Canada, is the site of the 110MW retrofit of SaskPower’s Boundary Dam coal-fired power plant. The new system will trap around 1 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. Inaugurated in October, the Boundary Dam power plant began capturing CO2 in September. The captured CO2 is being injected into nearby oilfields as a method for enhancing oil recovery.

CCS and Canada’s Boundary Dam Site – Infographic

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) encompasses the family of technologies and techniques that enable the capture of CO2 from fuel combustion or industrial processes. It also encompasses the storage of CO2 underground, or transported elsewhere via ships or pipelines.

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Several CCS projects are already under construction, or in advanced stages of planning. In Kemper County Mississippi, the launch of a large power plant CCS project is expected in early 2015. Elsewhere in the United States and Canada, additional large-scale systems are underway, as well as projects currently under construction in Australia, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Threatening Specter of “Stranded Assets”

As the world adopts an ambitious schedule for achieving a climate-friendly energy future, CCS is expected to play a major part in achieving required emissions reductions by 2050. The IEA projects that at least 16 percent of all global emissions will be reduced through Carbon Capture and Storage Systems.

In fact, IEA analysis has shown that global temperatures will not remain below 2 degrees Celsius without significant deployment of CCS. And without it, more than 66 percent of current proven fossil fuel reserves will have to remain in the ground after 2050. The specter of “stranded assets” is a very real factor in energy investment strategies, and is daily driving many fossil fuel divestment programs.

CCS is “Not Science Fiction, but Today’s Reality”

Recognizing the inauguration of Canada’s Boundary Dam retrofitted CCS system as “a momentous point” in the development of CCS, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven hailed the historic moment. She stated, “CCS is the only known technology that will enable us to continue to use fossil fuels and also decarbonise the energy sector. As fossil fuel consumption is expected to continue for decades, deployment of CCS is essential.”

The IEA Executive Director also commended Canada’s role in making the project a reality. “Getting Boundary Dam up and running is a great example of how Canada is a leader in CCS,” she said. “The experience from this project will be critically important. I wish the plant operator every success in showing the world that large-scale capture of CO2 from a power station is indeed not science fiction, but today’s reality.” 

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all images © SaskPower


About the Author

Aisha Abdelhamid is a native of Long Beach, California, residing in Egypt. Besides being the Site Director and a writer for InspiredEconomist.com, she also writes for PlanetSave.com and EdenKeeper.org. A retired Computer Engineer with the U.S. Dept. of Defense, her latest work published for the DoD was "Personal Financial Management." Commissioned by Congress, this award winning 10-course training set is hosted by NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, and is mandatory financial training for every branch of the US Military.
  • Jamie A.

    As positive as I’d love to be about CO2 reduction and the efforts made here, isn’t the overall aim and ethic of this solution a ‘green-wash’ of continual use of fossil fuels as opposed to a real sustainable alternate energy solution? However I do get the step-by step process of mass conversion and am not pretending to be knowledgeable about this process.
    My point really is that I think there is a major ethical responsibility of companies, governments and every individual to report, market and be totally honest about the real aims and agendas, ethics and responsibilities, and the real embodied energy and waste of ‘sustainable projects’ – and examine the wider context within the reals of common and attained knowledge.
    The crux of this story is that this system reduces some waste product of using said system that is destroying the planet anyway – yet this is hardly mentioned in the article. The potential beginning effort is inspiring but I feel like it’s misdirected energy and ignorant to the real environmental issue.
    Thanks for publishing the article – appreciated 🙂

    • WHY CCS is critically important right now:

      According to current estimates, the new U.S.-China emissions reduction commitment (read my article on this at http://ietransfer.wpengine.com/2014/11/24/future-energy-us-china-climate-pact/) will require the U.S. to eliminate an additional 670 million metric tons of carbon emissions between now and 2025, on top of what the EPA Clean Power Plan in its current design will cut. At current rates of CO2 emissions around the world, it is estimated that staying under the 2°C of temperature rise by 2100 will require all carbon emissions across the world to cease entirely by 2040.

      Stating the obvious, shutting down every current source of carbon emissions is economically unfeasible at present, and would be equally unethical without an alternative clean energy supply in place. For this reason, CCS is no longer optional – it is a mandatory bridge on the road to a renewable energy future. The crux of this story is that CCS is successful and SASK’s implementation is commendable. Thanks very much for commenting 😀