First commercial carbon capture plant opens

SaskPower's unit three, which came online in the 1970s, has been rebuilt to reduce its emissions by 90%.

The first large-scale project in the world to capture carbon-dioxide from a coal-burning power plant has opened in Western Canada.

Modifications to the Boundary Dam plant in Estevan, Saskatchewan cost $1.2 billion and took five years.

It is expected that about one million tonnes of carbon dioxide will be captured annually – the equivalent to taking 250,000 cars off the road.

The carbon dioxide will be separated from the plants flue gases and piped underground to increase oil production from the wells at a nearby oil field. The gas will stay under the ground.

The plant is viewed as an important test of the viability of using carbon-capture technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power stations.

Brad Page, the chief executive of the Melbourne-based Global CCS (carbon capture and storage) Institute described the Sasketchewan plant as incredibly important. But he pointed out it relied on a local coal source, and on selling the CO2 to the oil industry, to keep it economically sustainable.

Environmentalists have long argued that money spent on carbon capture would be better spent on developing renewable energy projects.

A leadership roundtable for the development of low emissions technologies for fossil fuels was announced by the Minerals Council of Australia on Friday.

Australia has invested $300 million in low emissions technology research and development, including the $11.5 million Australia-China Post Combustion Capture (PCC) Feasibility Study Project.

The CSIRO has participated in the development of PCC technology, which is explained here.

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