Alberta: Still King of Coal
The world is watching the oil sands.
But if you want to talk about greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta, all eyes should be on coal. That's where our big emissions lie. Burning coal to make electricity releases 20 per cent more CO2 than the oil sands. And most of our power is made that way.
So why does coal fly below the radar and what's being done to clean up coal?
By the numbers
Alberta's power sources
Coal: 5,893 megawatts
Gas: 4,635 megawatts
Hydro: 869 megawatts
Wind: 497 megawatts
Other renewables: 178 megawatts (wind, biomass, solar, run-of-river hydro)
Alberta has more coal-fired plants than any other province in the country.
There are eleven coal-fired plants in Alberta:
Genesee 3 (TransAlta / CAPITAL)
Sheerness (TransAlta / ATCO)
Genesee 1 (CAPITAL)
Genesee 2 (CAPITAL)
Battle River (ATCO)
H.R. Milner (Milner)
Coal Valley near Edson, Alberta (Sherritt)
Obed Mountain Mine near Hinton, Alberta (Sherritt)
Keephills 3 (TransAlta / Capital)
Coal Power: 53-70% of Alberta's electricity comes from burning coal
Alberta is home to 70% of Canada`s coal reserves.
In 2009, Alberta produced 31 million tonnes of coal, using 73% of it for electricity and selling the rest overseas to Asia.
Revenue for the province = $32.2 million in 2009
(Compared to $3 billion in royalties collected from oil sands projects)
Emissions in Alberta
Coal - 44 MT of CO2 from burning coal for electricity
Oil Sands - 37 MT of Co2
7 of Top 10 Polluters in Canada are in Alberta - 5 are coal-fired electricity plants
#1 TransAlta's Sundance Power Plant (14,489,943 tonnes of CO2e) - COAL, ALBERTA
#2 Syncrude's Mildred Lake and Aurora North Plant (11,666,211tonnes of CO2e) - OIL SANDS, ALBERTA
#3 Genesee 1, 2 & 3 (9,545,018 tonnes of CO2e) - COAL, ALBERTA
Source: Environment Canada
Capturing CO2 and storing it underground is being relied on to clean up coal and save our climate. Governments have committed $2B to the technology. But it's never been used at this scale. Will it work? Can we afford it?
4 experts debate the merits of CCS.
- Don Wharton
- Vice-President, Sustainable Development, TransAlta
- Graham Thompson
- Edmonton Journal, author of Burying Carbon Dioxide: Political Folly or Climate Change Solution?
- Stefan Bachu
- Principal Scientist, CO2 Storage, Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures
- Andrew Nikiforuk
- Award-winning freelance journalist
Listen to a replay of the debate.