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Carbon Capture Technology Can Keep Coal Industry Viable



By Paul Jones

October 9, 2020 -  Fossil fuels continue to play a significant role in the global energy profile. Proving carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is critical to securing the long-term viability of sustainable coal production in Saskatchewan and around the world.

In the fall of 2014, Boundary Dam Power Station near Estevan became the first power station in the world to successfully use CCS technology. Unit #3 CCS produces 115 megawatts of power – enough to power 100,000 Saskatchewan homes, and is capable of reducing the SO2 emissions from the lignite coal process by up to 100 percent per cent and the CO2 by up to 90 per cent. I worked at Boundary Dam and the Estevan Generating Station from 1970-72.

Why carbon capture and storage on coal? Coal is still the most widely used power source in the world, making up to 40 percent of the world’s electricity. Saskatchewan has lots of lignite coal. It’s cheap to use and coal plants are very reliable. However, burning coal also creates harmful CO2 emissions.

SaskPower is increasing our use of natural gas, hydro, wind and solar. But even with these power sources, we still need a constant power source that keeps the lights on 24/7 and is affordable for our customers. We also need to do all of this while renewing our aging infrastructure. By capturing and safely storing CO2 emissions before they reach the atmosphere, we can help ensure a brighter future for both our province and the world.

During the month of August, the carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility at Boundary Dam Power Station captured 78,127 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The average daily capture rate when CCS was online was 2,522 tonnes per day, with a peak one-day capture rate of 2,716 tonnes. The CCS facility was online 98.4 percent of the month, coming offline for 12 hours due to issues with BD3 electrostatic precipitators.

I am glad to hear that the premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney, has decided to go back to coal production and utilize it in power stations throughout the province of Alberta. He is considering to develop the carbon capture and storage project of coal in thermal stations throughout Alberta.