REGINA – The carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility at the Boundary Dam near Estevan failed to reach targets last year. This drew significant criticism, but not all the attention was negative.
Australian mining company BHP Billition is partnering with SaskPower on a multi-million dollar carbon capture research project at the University of Regina.
“May I say at the risk of some hyperbole I think it’s also a very important day in terms of the environment,” Premier Brad Wall said at Friday’s announcement.
BHP is investing $20 million over the next five years in the project. SaskPower will primarily contribute their CCS expertise from the Boundary Dam project.
The goal of the research is to accelerate the development and application of CCS technology.
“We need some immediate opportunities to reduce emissions,” BHP Billition Potash Canada President Giles Hellyer said. “What we see with Boundary Dam is a fully working model of a power plant with an integrated capture system that works today.”
A report released at the Paris Climate Summit in December says over 2,400 new coal-fired plants are in the works globally. This is why SaskPower’s CCS initiatives president, Mike Monea, said now is the time to act.
“The big deal is to link up all these pockets of knowledge around the world in order to bring them here so we can learn from them, and we can build a better plant for the future and then they can take the knowledge and build better plants where ever they are in the world,” he explained.
Regina’s proximity to the Boundary Dam will allow researchers to evaluate new carbon capture technology in a real world setting.
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Last year SaskPower fell hundreds of thousands of tonnes short of their million tonne capture goal. This caused the Crown corporation to lower their target this year to 800,000 tonnes.
Despite this, BHP is confident SaskPower can deliver.
“BHP Billiton wouldn’t be making this kind of investment if they didn’t believe SaskPower and Saskatchewan was a real leader and had solutions to offer a world that’s still burning coal, and plans on burning coal for some time,” Wall said.
The CCS facility seems to be on target for their 2016 goal. According to SaskPower it ran every day in January and captured about 85,000 tonnes of carbon.