Saskatchewan

Sask. delays 'clean coal' power

Saskatchewan's power company says it needs more information from the federal government before it decides whether to move ahead with a so-called clean coal project.

Full-scale carbon-capture and storage facility waiting on regulatory details

Saskatchewan's power company says it needs more information from the federal government before it decides whether to move ahead with a so-called clean coal project.

SaskPower, a provincial Crown corporation, announced Friday that it will rebuild its aging Unit 3 at the coal-fired Boundary Dam power plant near Estevan, Sask.

The company said a decision on a fully integrated carbon-capture and storage facility will have to wait until it gets more details on emissions regulations from Ottawa.

"We do need to get some clarification and certainty of what the feds are going to do," Robert Watson, the president of SaskPower, said Friday, noting the federal government has jurisdiction to regulate emissions.

"It would irresponsible to not ... look at the regulations and find out what's in them so that there are no surprises," he added.

Clean coal and the ability to capture greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters for storage underground are key planks in the federal Conservative government's plan to address climate change.

In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in southeastern Saskatchewan to tour the Boundary Dam where the federal and provincial governments are spending hundreds of millions of dollars working on a clean coal project.

That pilot project is separate from the Unit 3 upgrade.

Saskatchewan would need the technology to work on a large scale.

Per capita, the province is the largest emitter in the country due to its reliance on burning coal to generate electricity.

It has the second-highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita of any jurisdiction in the world — 72 tonnes per person annually — according to the Saskatchewan Environmental Society.

The company estimates it would cost $1.2 billion to rebuild Boundary Dam 3 as a fully integrated carbon-capture and storage unit.

Instead, refurbishing the 45-year-old unit to extend its life by another 30 years would cost an estimated $354 million.

"We're going to rebuild it so it's carbon-capture ready," said Watson. "It will come out as almost a brand new unit that's the latest technology set to capture carbon. Then, the second phase of the decision is to have the carbon-capture infrastructure built in order to capture the carbon. That's the delay.

"It's a deferral or a delay," he quickly added. "It's not a cancellation by any means."

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