Coal plant project has uncertain future

SASKATCHEWAN - Saskatchewan is considering a carbon-capture project that would be the biggest in Canada – if it's built.

And that's not yet certain, despite federal backing.

The plan is to refurbish one of the six units at SaskPower's aging coal-fired Boundary Dam generating station, near Estevan, as a carbon-capture demonstration project.

The estimated cost is $1.4 billion.

The recent federal budget included $240 million for the project.

With that amount in the kitty, officials at the provincial Crown corporation are reviewing whether the project makes technical and economic sense, an official said in a background briefing.

"This is a good day for Saskatchewan – for our economy and the environment," provincial Crown Corporations Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said after Ottawa announced its contribution.

But it's not a done deal. SaskPower hopes the project will go ahead but hasn't said whether it will, the official said.

Under the project, Unit Three, rated at 142 megawatts, would be rebuilt. When it reopens, a special solution in the smokestack would trap carbon dioxide emissions before they enter the atmosphere. The liquid would then be boiled, leaving only the carbon dioxide.

The greenhouse gas, converted to liquid form, would then be piped about 300 kilometres to oil fields close to Weyburn where it would be injected into wells to help push oil to the surface.

Part of the economic analysis involves talks with the oil producers over how much carbon dioxide they'd buy, and at what price.


in Year