SaskPower and BHP Billiton Establish Carbon Capture and Storage Knowledge Centre in Saskatchewan

February 05, 2016

Company investing $20 million to build on Saskatchewan's global leadership in CCS research

SaskPower today welcomed BHP's investment in the creation of a global centre for carbon capture and storage (CCS) knowledge to be located at the Innovation Place Research Park in Regina.

Establishing the new centre includes a $20 million contribution from BHP Billiton over five years, while SaskPower will contribute its CCS expertise and experience gained through its various CCS initiatives.

BHP Billiton Chief Commercial Officer Dean Dalla Valle said accelerating the development and deployment of low-emissions 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," Mr. Dalla Valle said.

"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," Premier Brad Wall said. "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."

The centre's mission is to help accelerate the development and application of CCS, which has been identified as essential in the global effort to reduce greenhouse emissions by the United Nations, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the Pembina Institute, among other organizations.

The deployment of CCS is particularly crucial in the power sector. Currently, there are more than 2,300 coal-fired power plants operating around the world, according to the World Coal Association. Another 2,440 plants are being planned or constructed, says a report released in December at the COP21 climate summit in Paris.

During the last two years, China alone has added more than 90,000 megawatts of coal-fired power, according to the China Electricity Council. In 2016, China expects to add another 40,000 megawatts of coal generation. That's an expansion of 130,000 megawatts in just three years — nearly equivalent to Canada's total generating capacity of 133,000 megawatts and about 30 times more than SaskPower's generating capacity of 4,408 megawatts.

Meanwhile, India's fleet of coal-fired power plants is forecast to increase by 250 per cent, with total generating capacity reaching almost 440,000 megawatts by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa are among the other countries planning or constructing new coal-fired power plants.

The work undertaken at the centre will help bring down the costs of CCS technology, assist in the management of development risk and promote greater information sharing around the world.

"We are very pleased to have BHP Billiton as a partner in this centre," SaskPower President and CEO Mike Marsh said. "Talks between our two companies began at a United Nations climate change conference in Peru in late 2014. Just over one year later, we are celebrating a ground-breaking knowledge centre that will offer the world a vehicle to advance the technology and commercial viability of CCS."

The centre will attract those with an interest in CCS from government, universities, industry, and research organizations. The centre will be staffed by employees seconded from SaskPower and BHP Billiton, with the possibility of participation from other companies and agencies. It will be led by a board of directors composed of representatives from SaskPower and BHP Billiton and independent nominees.

SaskPower operates the first commercial power plant in the world with a fully integrated carbon capture system at the Boundary Dam Power Station near Estevan.

In addition, the company has worked 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. SaskPower also hosts Aquistore, an independent research and monitoring project intended to demonstrate that storing carbon dioxide deep underground is safe and viable.

BHP Billiton is one of the world's largest mining companies. The firm runs a globally diversified coal business with operations in Australia, the United States and South America. It produces coal for the power and steel industries. BHP Billiton also runs a potash business headquartered in Saskatoon.

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