Calgary energy company eyeing Pincher Creek for potential carbon capture hub

Click to play video: 'Calgary company looks to bring carbon capture hub to Pincher Creek' Calgary company looks to bring carbon capture hub to Pincher Creek
WATCH: A Calgary energy company is seeking a permit from the province to evaluate a potential carbon capture sequestration hub near Pincher Creek. Danica Ferris has more on the proposal, which suggests the project could fill a need for cabon capture, utilization and storage in southern Alberta and the northwest United States. – May 10, 2022

A Calgary-based energy company is seeking a permit from the province to explore the potential of a carbon capture facility in southern Alberta.

The 2022 federal budget set a goal for Canada to become a net-zero economy by 2050, and as part of that transition, the demand for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) is growing. Calgary’s West Lake Energy Corp. believes it’s identified a project that could fill some of that demand, with a proposal for a carbon capture sequestration hub near Pincher Creek.

Read more: Canada needs $100B more annually to reach net-zero goal: Budget 2022

West Lake CEO Bruce McDonald says the recently submitted proposal was about a year in the making, and he believes the project could be monumental for the region.

“We think we can store just short of 100 million tonnes of carbon. That’s quite substantial,” McDonald said.

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“At optimal project size, we would be storing about 2.7 million tonnes a year, and that’s equivalent to just under 600,000 cars off the road.”

McDonald says the company already had operations in the area, including an old ammonia plant. It’s hoping that an approved permit will allow West Lake to repurpose that site into a carbon capture hub that will be a valuable resource in aiding in emission reduction while providing economic opportunities for the area.

“The world has changed, and we have to find solutions for carbon capture and storage,” he said.

“We put our geologists to work and we think we have an excellent area to capture carbon, to go well beyond our needs for a CCUS site and to see if we can attract other industries — including power and other industrial emitters — to the area.”

Read more: Canada must slash emissions by 42% to hit new 2030 targets, climate plan says

According to a release from West Lake, the potential facility would be expected to have a 30-year lifespan. McDonald says the hub would store clean carbon in a saline aquifer about four kilometres below surface, capturing emissions from a proposed new ammonia plant and a power station, as well as other nearby facilities.

Roland Milligan, director of development and community services for the Municipal District of Pincher Creek No. 9, said in a statement that the M.D. is in support of the project and views it as a benefit to the area.

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“We believe in the creation of opportunities for our community and see this project as an important initiative for the future of the area,” Milligan said. “West Lake has been operating in the municipal district since 2010. We are pleased to further strengthen our relationship and partner in the development of this important, clean energy, socio-economic project.”

McDonald says the project would start by creating construction jobs in the area, with many more opportunities stemming from the hub after that.

“Possibilities not just for West Lake but for the area,” he said. “I think we’ve done a very good job thinking outside the box and thinking about how can we bring economic development to a part of the province that needs it, without being disruptive.”

Read more: ‘They’ve doubled’: Costs spiking for southern Alberta greenhouse operators

West Lake is planning to coordinate some open houses this summer so that nearby residents can learn more about the project.

McDonald says he hopes the company will hear back from the province on its permit application by September, and then West Lake would look to find a partner for the province. He added they could possibly break ground in about 18 months.

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