Letter: Former Estevan resident wants to see CCS expanded

The editor:

Fossil fuels continue to play a significant role in the global energy profile.

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Proving carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is critical to securing the long-term viability of sustainable coal production in Saskatchewan and around the world.

In the fall of 2014, Boundary Dam Power Station near Estevan became the first power station in the world to successfully use carbon capture and storage (CCS)

technology. Unit 3 CCS produces upwards of 115 megawatts (MW) of power –enough to power 100,000 Saskatchewan homes. Capable of reducing the sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from the lignite coal process by up to 100 per cent and the carbon dioxide (CO2) by up to 90 per cent.

Why carbon capture and storage on coal? Coal is still the most widely used power source in the world, making up to 40 per cent of the world’s electricity. Saskatchewan has lots of lignite coal. It’s cheap to use and coal plants are very reliable. However, burning coal also creates harmful CO2 emissions.

SaskPower is increasing the use of natural gas, hydro, wind and solar. But even with these power sources, we still need a constant power source that keeps the lights on 24/7 and is affordable for customers. We also need to do all of this while renewing our aging infrastructure.

By capturing and safely storing CO2 emissions before they reach the atmosphere, we can help ensure a brighter future for both our province and the world.

During the month of August, the carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility at Boundary Dam Power Station captured 78,127 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The average daily capture rate when CCS was online was 2,522 tonnes per day, with a peak one-day capture rate of 2,716 tonnes. The CCS facility was online 98.4 per cent of the month, coming offline for 12 hours due to issues with BD3 electrostatic precipitators.

I attended the Weyburn technical school to take my power engineer fourth class course in 1969, and, after graduation, Hector Bourassa and myself were selected to work at SPC Boundary Dam because we had the highest marks. The other engineers were asked to work elsewhere in the province.

I was astonished to see such a huge power plant. The combustion chamber was nine floors high and the steam pressure was 27,600 kilopascals for the 150-megawatt boiler–turbine unit. My initial job was to work as a coalhandler where I was responsible to fill the hoppers of coal on conveyor belts into the crusher where it was later pulverized into the combustion chamber with natural gas. 

The atmosphere was hot and dusty. 

Later on I was shift engineer at the Estevan Generating Station – 66-megawatt, 6,900-kilopascal – where they had stoker-fired boilers. One would have to keep alert operating this plant at all times. When the Estevan Generating Station was closed I left the company and found work elsewhere.

For the past 25 years I worked in various high pressure power plants and upgraded the power engineer’s certificate to second class.

I am glad to hear that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has decided to go back to coal production and utilize it in power stations throughout the province of Alberta. He is considering developing the carbon capture and storage project of coal in thermal stations throughout Alberta.


Paul Jones

Coaldale, Alta.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury


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