Today is a momentous day. Today is the day that clean electricity is generated on a commercial scale from a coal fired power station.
I am here at the Boundary Dam coal fired power plant in Saskatchewan, Canada, witnessing the historic moment when Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan, throws the switch on the technology that will capture the carbon dioxide from a generating unit at a coal fired power plant. It will capture more than 90% of the carbon dioxide that would otherwise escape to the atmosphere - demonstrating to sceptics that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) can be deployed at scale. Several pilot scale capture facilities have operated in the past, but this is the first time carbon capture has operated on a commercial scale on a power station anywhere in the world.
The operators of Boundary Dam, SaskPower – a Canadian power utility company - developed a viable technical, environmental and economic case for investing in the carbon capture technology to transform an aging unit in a power station to one generating clean energy.
Boundary Dam will capture around one million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – which the project has calculated is the equivalent to taking 250,000 cars off Saskatchewan roads annually. The captured carbon dioxide will be transported by pipeline to nearby oil fields and used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Any carbon dioxide not used for EOR will be permanently stored in deep underground rock formations at Aquistore, approximately 2km west of Boundary Dam.
Boundary Dam will soon be joined by other commercial scale CCS power stations - Kemper County in the US, using pulverised coal to generate clean electricity, is expected to be in operation in 2015; and Petra Nova in Texas is under construction. Our own White Rose and Peterhead projects, which are part of the Government’s £1bn commercialisation programme, are making good progress on their planning and engineering studies so that we can take final investment decisions early in 2016.
The launch of this ground-breaking CCS project is an opportune moment to reflect on how important this technology is to achieving our long term domestic and global climate change ambitions. Just last week, delegates in New York were reminded of the IPCC conclusions that without CCS, meeting our climate targets will be much more expensive and much more difficult. Power generation with CCS is no longer a pipe dream – today it is a reality.
For the UK, CCS is one part of our future low carbon mix, and could support 15,000 -30,000 jobs by 2030.
- More information about the Boundary Dam project is available on the SaskPower website.