Michael Monea, President of the Carbon Captureand Storage Initiative at SaskPower, describes thebenefits of carbon capture. – Photo: CAC
Canada is about to go online with a new commercial power plant featuring a carbon capture and storage operation that, for the first time, will reduce carbon (CO2) emissions by 90 percent while also removing 100 percent of the sulphur dioxide (SO2) and 27 percent of nitric oxide (NO) emissions. Michael Monea, President of Carbon Capture and Storage Initiatives at SaskPower explained the new technology during the Coal Association of Canada’s (CAC) annual conference in Vancouver, B.C. The new $1.4 Billion Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration is scheduled to launch on October 2, 2014.
“Our goal is to remove and reduce emissions from coal, and because there is plenty of coal as a reliable fuel source, we need to make it environmentally-friendly,” Monea emphasized while speaking with media.
Since beginning construction in April 2011, Monea and his team of engineers and geologists have been working around the clock to integrate the carbon capture and storage (CCS) system. The work includes the installation of massive CO2 and SO2 absorbers and strippers as well as constructing an acid plant and CO2 underground storage facilities. In addition, Cenovus Energy Inc. has built 65 km of pipelines for Enhanced Oil Recovery from the new retrofit plant near Estevan, Saskatchewan, and close to United States border.
Making the business case for clean coal
During his presentation, Monea explained the economics and environmental benefits for the long-term use of thermal coal with this new carbon capture technology added to the equation.
“I am seeing continuing demand for coal with the addition of this technology,” Monea said while adding, “With what our team has learned over the past three years, the cost for constructing future CCS plants could be reduced by as much as 30 percent.”
In addition, the cost of generation per megawatt hour (MWh) at $70 – $85, is competitive with current rates and can provide long-term, consistent rates for power customers. Monea estimates one million tonnes of CO2 emissions, or the equivalent removing 250,000 vehicles off the roads, will be prevented from entering the atmosphere each year.
CO2 as a revenue source
Part of what makes the CCS system economically viable for SaskPower is the ability to capture and sequester SO2 and CO2 for resale. With SO2, it is collected and transported as sulfuric acid. However, with CO2, it is ideal for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The CO2 that is stripped from the flue stream is pressurized and liquefied before being transported via 65km of pipeline to depleted oilfields where it is injected deep underground. The result is between one-half and two-thirds of the injected CO2 returns to the surface with the recovered oil and is usually re-injected into the reservoir. Monea said the liquefied CO2 is then trapped and stored underground in the same reservoir under a solid rock cap.
“We believe the carbon capture and storage technology being developed by SaskPower will renew confidence with investors and power providers that coal continues as a reliable and cost effective option.” Audience member at CAC meeting – Photo: CAC
Carbon Capture attracts interest from abroad
Over the past year, the construction of the new CCS plant has gained the attention of China and Eastern Europe. In China, preventing and reducing carbon emissions has become a top priority because there are so many coal powered plants across the nation. Furthermore, Monea explained that the opportunity for several interested countries to form a consortium where they would collectively benefit from the engineering and geological knowledge gained by Monea’s team. SaskPower also has a test facility and collaborates with universities to further the program.
Attendees at Coal Association of Canada meeting express confidence in CCS technology
During the question period, members in the audience were interested to learn more about the carbon capture and storage technology being developed by SaskPower. One member stated, “carbon capture will help renew confidence with investors and power providers that coal continues as a reliable and cost effective option.” On its website, The Coal Association of Canada states, “Coal mining is an important contributor to Canada’s GDP contributing $5.2 Billion to the economy in 2011.” The audience appeared keen that more power plants will begin adopting CCS technology.
Monea concluded his presentation with the message that it is an exciting time for Canada because the world is watching coal will become a more competitive and cleaner energy source.
Edward Munro is a Communications & Sustainability Consultant with PR Associates, a Vancouver-based public relations and communication firm.