Harper government announces funding for eight carbon capture projects

CALGARY — The Harper government has given the “green” light to eight projects aimed at developing carbon capture and storage technologies.

CALGARY — The Harper government has given the “green” light to eight projects aimed at developing carbon capture and storage technologies.

Funding was announced last April but it took the Natural Resources Department a year to choose from almost 40 proposals it received.

“I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the importance of this technology,” Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt said Thursday at an announcement in Calgary.

“These companies span B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan, and they will be demonstrating how carbon capture and storage can be used to reduce our emissions associated with projects such as fertilizer production, gas processing and coal-fired electricity generation.”

Ottawa will spend between $3 million and $30 million on each of the projects up to a total of $140 million.

“It’s very true it is not an inexpensive solution and moving from research to commercialization is very difficult,” Raitt said.

“However, that’s exactly why we have to be here today … the end goal is to make … this technology … utilized and socially acceptable in terms of cost.”

The Alberta government has already said it will spend $2 billion to develop a carbon capture system for the oilsands.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced after Obama’s visit to Canada last month that they would work together to develop new technologies to stem emissions from the coal and oil industries.

Carbon capture and storage is a process in which carbon dioxide is taken from the air and buried. A timeline for when such a technology could actually begin reducing the carbon footprint left by big polluters is unclear.

However, Saskatchewan’s minister of Crown Corporations pointed to a project already in place in his province as proof that it works.

“We have an operation in Saskatchewan operating right now. It’s commercially viable and it’s beyond the test stage and now we’re taking it to that next level where we’re talking many tonnes of carbon capture and sequestration,” said Ken Cheveldayoff, who was at the announcement.

Raitt said it’s hoped “rising economic powers” such as India and China will eventually apply the technology to their energy production.

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