BHP Billiton is investing $20 million in Saskatchewan’s research and development in the field of carbon capture and storage (CCS).
The multi-national corporation will be injecting the money into the global centre for CCS located at Innovation Place Research Park in Regina.
The new centre will see BHP Billiton’s investment spread out over five years while SaskPower will contribute its CCS expertise and experience gained through its various CCS initiatives that include the vital carbon capture and sequestration system installed at Boundary Dam.
BHP Billiton’s chief commercial officer, Dean Dalla Valle said accelerating the development and deployment of low-emission technologies is vital. “By enhancing global access to the data, information and lessons learned from SaskPower’s unique Boundary Dam facility — the first power project to successfully integrate carbon capture, transport and storage — we will hopefully stimulate broader deployment of the technology.”
“Saskatchewan citizens should be proud our province is leading the world in the development and deployment of CCS, which is one of the few technologies capable of reducing carbon dioxide emissions in a meaningful way,” said Premier Brad Wall during the announcement. “CCS is especially important because the fastest growing countries in the world are expected to rely on coal to power their economies for some time to come. SaskPower’s partnership with BHP Billiton will allow us to share the benefits of CCS with the world while continuing to reduce carbon emissions here at home.”
There are now more than 2,300 coal-fired power plants in operation around the world with another 2,440 being planned or under construction, said a report filed at the climate summit held recently in Paris.
In the last two years, China alone has added more than 90,000 megawatts of coal-fired power, according to their Electricity Council. They will add a further 40,000 megawatts this year, a total nearly exceeding Canada’s total generating capacity and about 30 times more than SaskPower’s generating capacity of 4,408 megawatts.
In India, they are forecasting an increase by 250 per cent in coal-fired power plant production with almost 440,000 megawatts to be going on stream by 2040.
Other countries that will continue to rely on coal-fired electrical production and forecasting increases on that file include Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa.
The work undertaken at the centre will be focused on bringing the costs of CCS technology down and managing development risk and promoting greater information sharing around the world.
Mike Marsh, SaskPower’s CEO, said talks between BHP Billiton and SaskPower began at the United Nations climate change conference in Peru in the latter part of 2014.
It is expected the research centre will attract interest from governments, universities, industries and other research organizations as the work within it rolls out to the global community.
The centre will be staffed by employees seconded from SaskPower and BHP Billiton with the possibilities of adding participants from other companies and agencies. A board of directors will direct the administrative needs with members coming from SaskPower, BHP Billiton and independent nominees.
SaskPower also inked a partnership with Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems to develop the Carbon Capture Test Facility at Shand Power Station, where carbon capture technologies can be evaluated in the setting of a commercial power plant. Shand is located just a few kilometers from the Boundary Dam Power Station where the commercial-sized carbon capture unit has been installed on the plant’s generating Unit 3 that produces up to 120 megawatts of power.
SaskPower also is host to the Aquistore, an independent research
and monitoring project intended to demonstrate that storing carbon dioxide deep underground is safe and viable.
BHP Billiton is a diversified mining company with coal mining and businesses in Australia, United States and South America. It is also running a potash business in Saskatchewan, headquartered in Saskatoon.