Canada’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.
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.”