Jamshed Merchant: Canada’s experience shows ‘carbon capture’ works

Organisation: SaskPower

In Estevan, Saskatchewan, about 10 miles north of the Canada-U.S. border, something remarkable is happening. At Boundary Dam, a long-established coal-fired power station, SaskPower engineers are finishing a retrofit of a newly refurbished unit (Boundary Dam 3) with state-of-the-art carbon capture technology. When the plant resumes full regular operations next year, the rebuilt unit will continue to burn coal — but with about 90 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions. As Canada’s Consul General in the Upper Midwest, I traveled to Saskatchewan in September with a group of American stakeholders, including North Dakota legislators, policy experts and an MIT scientist. We visited both Boundary Dam 3 and some of the cutting-edge Carbon Capture and Storage research projects taking place in Regina, Saskatchewan. Carbon Capture and Storage or CCS involves trapping CO2 at its emission source and then storing it in such a way that it does not enter the atmosphere. Among its many benefits, CCS is a more environmentally sustainable way to use coal for the production of electricity. As I saw on my visit, CCS is capable of changing the equation on CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. Implemented with the joint support of Canada’s federal government and the province of Saskatchewan with a contribution of well over $1 billion, Boundary Dam 3 is the world’s first commercial-scale power plant with a fully integrated post-combustion CCS system.