Alberta ponying up $2 billion to make carbon capture and storage work

If a province were to be set up specifically for carbon capture and storage, it would look a lot like Alberta.

Production foreman Ron Toly visually inspects the carbon capturing research facility near Redwater on Friday

Production foreman Ron Toly visually inspects the carbon capturing research facility near Redwater on Friday

EDMONTON — If a province were to be set up specifically for carbon capture and storage, it would look a lot like Alberta.

That’s a good thing, because if there’s one province that desperately needs carbon capture and storage to work, it is Alberta.

In an effort to do just that, the Alberta government announced Tuesday that seven companies will divvy up $2 billion from the province of Alberta to fund three carbon capture and storage pilot projects. The successful projects all combine capturing carbon dioxide from industrial emissions, transporting it and injecting it deep underground.

The companies selected for the funding include Epcor, Enbridge, Shell Canada, Chevron Canada, Marathon Oil Sands, Enhance Energy and Northwest Upgrading.

A spokeswoman for Enhance/Northwest says the dollar amounts for each of the projects will be subject to negotiations over the coming weeks.

But the urgency to make carbon storage and capture work is immediate.

Led by the carbon-intensive oilsands, the province is belching ever greater amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, a fact of which the world is increasingly aware.

And Alberta Environment says the solutions being tried elsewhere don’t work here.

“We don’t have those low-cost or even medium-cost reduction opportunities that a lot of jurisdictions do,” says Andy Ridge of the department’s climate change section. “Carbon capture and storage plays a critical role in what Alberta can do.”

Only 15 per cent of Alberta’s emissions come from vehicles compared with a more typical average of 25 per cent in other parts of the country. That means more efficient vehicles won’t cut carbon dioxide.

And while Alberta has one of Canada’s first wind farms, the great majority of the province’s already strained electricity supply comes from coal.

On top of that, many houses are relatively new, so retrofits won’t reduce energy consumption enough. The same goes for most of the industrial base.

About two-thirds of the province’s pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 200 million tonnes in the next 40 years is expected to come from carbon storage.

Fortunately, if pumping CO2 emissions underground to store them in perpetuity can work anywhere, it can work in Alberta.

“We think Alberta has some of the premier storage space around the world,” says Brent Lakeman, who manages the Alberta Research Council’s carbon and energy management program.

The very presence of energy deposits means the geology is favourable, Lakeman says. If the rocks were able to store oil and gas underground for millions of years, they can probably store CO2 as well.

Deep saline aquifers — another proposed CO2 repository even deeper than most oil deposits — are everywhere in the province. And Alberta’s geology is among the most stable in the country.

By 2015, the province hopes to have five or six working projects, injecting up to 10 million tonnes of CO2 a year into the ground. That sounds like a lot, but it won’t even reduce Alberta’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, which are expected to keep climbing until 2020.

Ridge defends that timetable. He says local industry would lose competitiveness if the provincial government moved faster than other jurisdictions.

Even in Alberta, CCS won’t be enough to bring greenhouse gas emissions under control.

But, perhaps more than in most places, it will be essential.

“If you don’t have this one in your toolbox, you’re in trouble,” says Lakeman.

Just Posted

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Alberta’s declining COVID-19 numbers are a positive sign for the province. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer down to 634 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone down to 2,054 active cases

Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Rylan Thiessen (26) guards the front of the net as goalie Connor Unger makes a save on Winnipeg Ice forward Skyler Bruce during a Western Hockey League game on April 14 at the Brandt Centre in Regina. Brandon won 5-3. (Keith Hershmiller Photography)
Two big trades provide stability for Red Deer Rebels

All Connor Ungar wanted was an opportunity and he’s finally found it.… Continue reading

(Screenshot).
Seven central Alberta charities benefit from community foundation grants

Seven central Alberta charities have received grants from the Red Deer and… Continue reading

Red Deer Gun Show organizer, Harold Drok, is concerned $1 fee from each ticket sale will go to Westerner Park once shows can be restarted there. This new policy replaces parking fees which will be waived for future Westerner Park events. (Black Press file photo)
Event organizer concerned about Westerner Park’s new parking fee model

A show organizer is concerned this could impact proceeds

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
Organizers of central Alberta anti-lockdown rodeo plead not guilty

Ty and Gail Northcott charged under the Public Health Act

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo is glad the Alberta government is investing $2 million to help the province’s live music industry, but he would have liked the criteria to be expanded, so the money could be used as relief to cover revenue shortfalls. (Contributed photo by Cory Michaud)
Red Deer musicians welcome $2M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says he knew about investigation into general overseeing vaccines weeks ago

Trudeau says he knew about investigation into general overseeing vaccines weeks ago

Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Leca Dube, son of late Joyce Echaquan, stands in front of a vigil marking violence against native women, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, outside the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Echaquan inquiry: Quebec nurse admits prejudice about Indigenous patients among staff

Echaquan inquiry: Quebec nurse admits prejudice about Indigenous patients among staff

An excavator works in the background as police establish a checkpoint on McClure Main in the Caycuse area on B.C.'s Vancouver Island, Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Police arrest five protesters for refusing to leave anti-logging blockades in B.C.

Police arrest five protesters for refusing to leave anti-logging blockades in B.C.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Ceasefire needed in Israeli-Palestinian conflict to avoid loss of more civilians: PM

Ceasefire needed in Israeli-Palestinian conflict to avoid loss of more civilians: PM

Canadian Academy and other organizations champion Cancon through various campaigns

Canadian Academy and other organizations champion Cancon through various campaigns

FILE - Actor/comedian Charles Grodin, appears at a news conference announcing him as host of CNBC's new primetime show "Charles Grodin" in New York on Nov. 15, 1994. Grodin, the offbeat actor and writer who scored as a newlywed cad in “The Heartbreak Kid” and the father in the “Beethoven” comedies, died Tuesday at his home in Wilton, Conn. from bone marrow cancer. He was 86. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler, File)
Charles Grodin, ‘Midnight Run,’ ‘Heartbreak Kid,’ star, dies

Charles Grodin, ‘Midnight Run,’ ‘Heartbreak Kid,’ star, dies

Sarah Polley, Jayne Eastwood among winners on night 2 of Canadian Screen Awards

Sarah Polley, Jayne Eastwood among winners on night 2 of Canadian Screen Awards

Most Read