SaskPower to launch carbon capture project near ND

ESTEVAN, SASKATCHEWAN (AP) - Billed as the world's first commercial-scale carbon capture undertaking, the $1.35 billion Boundary Dam Project near Estevan, Saskatchewan, is only a few months away from startup.

SaskPower expects to reduce carbon dioxide by 90 percent at its rebuilt Boundary Dam Power Station's Unit 3 when the system becomes operational mid-year. The plant is located in southeastern Saskatchewan, near the North Dakota border.

Although initiated as a way to meet stringent federal emissions restrictions coming in 2015 for coal-fired plants in Canada, the project means more than fulfilling a mandate for SaskPower. Envisioning itself as a leader in the power industry, SaskPower hopes to capture not just carbon but also world attention. No other carbon capture venture compares with the Boundary Dam Project in size.

"It's absolutely pioneering," SaskPower President Robert Watson told The Minot Daily News.. "It's the first in the world. It will be a definite model that any company, government or region in the world who is burning fossil fuels at all for power production should be looking at, all the way from design phase through the construction and operation. They should be having serious looks at it to see if it fits their profiles at all."

However, it could be two years before the system reaches peak efficiency and SaskPower has a firm grasp on the advantages associated with its system.

"What we will do is run the Boundary Dam facility for a couple of years, test the technology and see what the economies are of running a plant in full production, and go from there," Watson said.

Unit 3 is to begin producing in May. SaskPower plans to sync it with the carbon capture facility a couple of months later.

"The capture facility is done. It's constructed. We are just doing the commissioning and inspection testing. We are taking our time doing that," Watson said.

Employees are being trained in the new technology and in operating a chemical plant, which is the classification for the carbon capture facility.

"It's long-term employment for families in the area," Watson said. "It helps the economy in the southeastern part of the province, not that the economy needs helping. It's robust now."

Construction started in April 2011 but getting the new system into operation has been delayed, mostly by surprises uncovered in the rebuild on the power plant. The unexpected, additional work meant extra time and money.

"We will be a bit over budget, but in the whole scheme of things, it will be quite modest," Watson said.

Starting in July 2015, the Canadian government is requiring that coal-burning units more than 50 years old either shut down or reduce carbon dioxide emissions to less than 420 tons per gigawatt hour. SaskPower has decommissioned Units 1 and 2 at its Boundary Dam station. Both were more than 50 years old.

In the next two to three years, SaskPower will have to decide whether to convert Boundary Dam Units 4 and 5 to carbon capture, Watson said. They reach 50 years in the early 2020s.

Abandoning coal as a fuel isn't realistic in southern Saskatchewan, Watson said.

"We have a lot of coal in the southern part of the province, and we sit right on top of it. It's on the surface so it's easy to get, a very, very cheap fuel supply, and we have a lot of it," he said. "To use it as a stable, reasonable fuel supply was something we really wanted to do."

At the start of the year, the company was providing power in the province through its three coal-fired power stations, seven hydroelectric stations, six natural gas stations and two wind facilities for a combined generation of 3,513 megawatts of electricity.

The 110- to 115-megawatt Boundary Dam Unit 3 will meet the new federal standards with technology to capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide, cutting emissions from 1,100 tons to 160 tons per gigawatt hour. The technology also will capture 100 percent of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

The carbon capture system is designed to capture 1 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. SaskPower has a long-term contract with Cenovus Energy of Calgary, Alberta, to transfer the carbon dioxide by pipeline to the Weyburn field for enhanced oil recovery. Carbon dioxide captured at the synfuels plant at Beulah already is being used for oil recovery around Weyburn, Sask.

SaskPower is involved with Aquistore, a research project managed by the Petroleum Technology Research Centre, to pipe some of the carbon dioxide to an injection well to be stored 3.5 kilometers, or about 2 miles, underground.

SaskPower also has markets for fly ash and for sulfur dioxide, converted into sulfuric acid.

Electricity users won't see rate increases due to the carbon capture project, Watson said. SaskPower is absorbing those costs, although rates could be affected by the retrofitting the Unit 3 power station.

The Boundary Dam project received a $240 million federal grant, which helped pay for the design and modeling that went into developing the technology.

SaskPower wants to create three to four models from its technology that can reduce carbon dioxide by 50 percent or better and then market those models to companies based on their desired carbon reduction efforts.

SaskPower also is constructing a carbon capture test facility at its Shand Power Plant near Estevan. Developed in collaboration with Hitachi, Ltd., the facility will give technology developers an opportunity to test new systems for controlling carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Completion of the facility is expected by early 2015.

2014 Articles

Harvard Law School professor pays Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional

12/31/2014

Laurence H. Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard University and former mentor to Barack Obama, said in an article last week that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional.

3 SKorea workers die at nuke plant construction site

12/30/2014

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Three South Korean workers died Friday after apparently inhaling toxic gas at a construction site for a nuclear plant being built by South Korea's monopoly nuclear power company, which has come un...

UMaine in business of certifying turbine blades

12/30/2014

ORONO, Maine (AP) — The University of Maine has tested its largest wind turbine blade to date. UMaine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center completed static strength testing this month of a 184-foot-long wind turbine...

Mergers, EPA carbon plan generated much attention during 2014

12/29/2014

Mergers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan, cheap natural gas and the polar vortex were among the most noteworthy generation stories of 2014.

Developer opens Ohio review for 800-MW, gas-fired project

12/29/2014

Clean Energy Future-Lordstown LLC plans an 800-MW, gas-fired power project, and on Dec. 24 applied with the Ohio Power Siting Board for certain routine waivers it needs before filing a full siting application for this proj...

New England utility exec named to Vermont PSB

12/29/2014

A woman who worked for Vermont's Department of Public Service for 17 years is going to become the next member of the utility-regulating Public Service Board. The appointment of Sarah Hofmann was announced Monday by Gov. Pe...

Brown picks aide to lead troubled California utility board

12/29/2014

Gov. Jerry Brown named a former adviser on Tuesday to be the next head of California's troubled utilities commission, replacing a regulatory chief accused of back-channel dealings with utilities. Michael Picker, a former a...

Washington state carbon emissions dropped in 2011

12/29/2014

Greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state dropped by about 4.6 percent between 2010 and 2011, led by reductions in emissions from the electricity sector, according to the latest figures released by the state. The latest...

Group wants state regulators recused from PNM case

12/29/2014

State regulators in less than two weeks are to begin deliberating a proposal that calls for shutting down part of an aging coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico that serves more than 2 million customers in the ...

Vermont Yankee plant prepares to shut down

12/29/2014

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is getting ready to shut down. Its owner, Entergy Corp., says it is closing the plant for economic reasons. The plant in Vernon is expected to disconnect from the regional power grid Monday.

PSEG Solar to acquire Maryland solar project from juwi

12/23/2014

PSEG Solar Source will acquire a 12.9-MW solar energy facility near Waldorf, Maryland from juwi solar (JSI). The PSEG Waldorf Solar Energy Center will increase the capacity of PSEG Solar Source's portfolio to 123-MW.

PG&E discloses more emails with state regulators

12/23/2014

California's largest power utility released a dozen more emails Monday that it said showed improper back-channel discussions between the utility and top state regulators.

Indianapolis airport solar farm expansion completed

12/23/2014

Contractors have finished bringing online dozens of acres of solar panels at Indianapolis International Airport, solidifying its status as the home of the nation's largest airport-based solar farm.

French power company to pay $772M in bribery case

12/23/2014

A French power and transportation company has agreed to pay $772 million to resolve allegations that it bribed high-ranking foreign government officials for lucrative projects, the Justice Department said Monday.

Nebraska nuclear plant back online after short outage

12/23/2014

The Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant is back online less than a week after its main generator unexpectedly shut down as a precaution.

Ameren Missouri plans $135M in energy efficiency

12/23/2014

Missouri's largest electric company said Monday that it plans to invest $135 million in energy efficiency programs for customers over a three-year period.

TEPCO completes nuclear fuel assemblies removal from Fukushima 4

12/22/2014

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said it has safely removed the fuel assemblies from the most damaged nuclear reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

B&W Vølund to build waste-to-energy power plant in Scotland

12/22/2014

In a consortium with Interserve, Babcock & Wilcox Co.’s (B&W, NYSE:BWC) subsidiary, Babcock & Wilcox Vølund A/S (B&W Vølund), will engineer, procure and construct (EPC) a waste-to-energy (WTE) power plant f...

SKorea holds N-plant drills against cyber threats

12/22/2014

South Korea's monopoly nuclear power company said it began drills Monday against possible cyberattacks after online threats of attack against its plants.

PSC approves solar power project

12/22/2014

The Public Service Commission has approved solar power project planned by Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric in Mercer County.

Did You Like this Article? Get All the Energy Industry News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to an email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now

Whitepapers

Maximizing Operational Excellence

In a recent survey conducted by PennEnergy Research, 70% of surveyed energy industry professional...

Leveraging the Power of Information in the Energy Industry

Information Governance is about more than compliance. It’s about using your information to drive ...

Reduce Engineering Project Complexity

Engineering document management presents unique and complex challenges. A solution based in Enter...

Revolutionizing Asset Management in the Electric Power Industry

With the arrival of the Industrial Internet of Things, data is growing and becoming more accessib...