SaskPower began full operation of its flagship carbon capture and storage project at the Boundary Dam power plant in Saskatchewan yesterday, making it the world’s first commercial scale carbon capture and storage facility at a coal-fired power plant.
The project was completed at a cost of $1.35 billion and integrates a coal-fired power unit with amine capture technology.
The plant has been capturing CO2 since late September, but only yesterday began piping liquid CO2 to Cenovus Energy’s oilfields for use in enhanced oil recovery operations, thereby completing the CCS chain.
The Boundary Dam project will capture around 1 million metric tons of CO2 each year from the power plant. Any CO2 not used in enhanced oil recovery will be stored at the Aquistore project, a CO2 storage research and monitoring project in southeast Saskatchewan.
Although a handful of smaller pilot CCS projects are already up and running worldwide, Boundary Dam is the largest.
According to Stuart Haszeldine of Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage, the project is proof that full-scale CCS on power generation is both possible and can work commercially to deliver electricity with no subsidy. In addition, he said he expects more commercial CCS projects in North America within two years, and that China plans to move from its 20 pilots and demonstrations to multiple commercial projects by 2017.
Haszeldine’s statement echoes that of a UK government task force report last year that stated gas and coal power plants equipped with carbon capture, transport and storage technology have the potential to be cost competitive with other low-carbon power generation in the UK by the early 2020s.