A scathing new report out of the U.K. takes aim at how Saskatchewan uses carbon capture technology, specifically at Boundary Dam 3 near Estevan.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation report was written by Gordon Hughes, a professor of economics at the University of Edinburgh.
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“Unfortunately the costs and the experience are not as encouraging as many people had hoped,” Hughes said.
Retrofits to the coal power plant with carbon capture technology cost around $1.5 billion dollars and the report said it hasn’t performed up to expectations.
“The performance has not been entirely satisfactory,” Hughes stated.
“It doesn’t represent a tremendously good example of what one would hope to get out of carbon capture and then the subsequent sequestration of the carbon dioxide if it’s to be economically viable.”
The report claims breakdowns and maintenance has Boundary Dam 3 operating only 40 per cent of the time, a figure Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says is untrue.
“The numbers they’re using are just patently wrong” Wall said.
“Earlier on in our commissioning year, (BD3) was operating at less than 50 per cent because it was a commissioning year; adjustments were being made since then. This year, we’ll capture 700-thousand tonnes of CO2.”
According to Saskpower, over 1.5 million tonnes of carbon has been captured since BD3 became operational; up and running at 82 per cent since this time last year.
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The report suggests replacing the coal plant with an efficient gas plant would cut CO2 emissions at five to 10 per cent of the costs.
“The prices essentially of gas are now more than competitive with coal,” Hughes said, “so the technology, if it’s used, has to be for gas plants not for coal plants.”
Cathy Sproule, the NDP’s critic of Saskpower, is also weighing in; agreeing with the report that the costs of carbon capture technology are too high.
“Clearly the costs that impact the ratepayers of Saskatchewan are untenable and we can’t afford it,” Sproule said.
She said the costs associated with Boundary Dam 3 cost every resident in Saskatchewan $1500.
Despite the report, Wall is defending Saskatchewan’s use of CCS technology.
“We know what happens when we focus on technology,” Wall said. “The first generation is a little more expensive, and not as efficacious as we’d like it to be and as you stick with it, the costs come down and it works.”
BD3 was shut down during the month of June for scheduled maintenance.
According to it’s website, the Global Warming Policy Foundation is an organization that considers global warming to be a contested science, and is”deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated.”