First Large-Scale Carbon Capture Power Plant In World Now Online In Canada

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

The first large-scale carbon capture power plant in the world recently came online in the Canadian region of Saskatchewan. The $1.3 billion, 110 MW project represents the first time that the real-world effectiveness of the technology is truly being tested. It should be interesting.

Whatever your opinion may be on the technology/approach — waste of money, too little too late, best idea ever, godsend, etc — there’s no denying that this represents a significant step forward for it. If the technology is going to have any effect on the climate worth noting at all, such projects will have to become commonplace relatively soon.


While the project has been online since the end of September, the official ribbon-cutting ceremony — held by Saskatchewan’s state-owned electricity provider SaskPower International — wasn’t held until just a few days ago.

Climate Central provides some details on the project:

The Boundary Dam power plant promises to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 90% by trapping C02 underground before the gas reaches the atmosphere – making its opening a milestone in the coal industry’s efforts to remain viable in a low-carbon economy.

The company said the project would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 million tons a year, or the equivalent of taking 250,000 cars off the road, in one of the more fossil fuel-dependent regions of Canada.

Captured CO2 from the Boundary Dam project will be pumped underground and sold to the Cenovus oil company for use in priming nearby oil fields, or buried in geological formations.


“Saskatchewan is number one in the world,” stated Brad Page, the chief executive of the Global CCS Institute. “This is an incredibly important event from our perspective.”

Hard to say if there’s more to that statement other than simple bluster. But I guess that it’s hard to tell at this point. Time will tell.

Given that the technology has yet to be truly embraced in the US, it’ll be interesting to see if this development has an effect there. Worth keeping in mind is that new power plant emissions rules are coming down the line in the US, via the EPA.

Image Credit: SaskPowerCCS

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

CleanTechnica Holiday Wish Book

Holiday Wish Book Cover

Click to download.

Our Latest EVObsession Video

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

53 thoughts on “First Large-Scale Carbon Capture Power Plant In World Now Online In Canada

  • I’m curious to see how it will be evaluated in the long run. For now, it seems as fuzzy and full of dirty little secrets as the nuclear industry is.
    What is the cost per storage unit to capture and store?
    When sold to the oil companies instead of buried, what happens to the CO2 once used? Will anybody control that?
    The storage capacity being not infinite, at which point becomes this plant useless?
    What is its cost compared to its lifetime and the expected environmental benefits?
    How can we ensure that the CO2 will not escape by numerous and unmanageable cracks and holes possibly located far away from the injection place?
    Once the added cost of CC is factored in, is coal still competitive?

    The good point is see is that from now it’s easier to put forward the notion that the cost of using coal MUST include the cost of CC.

  • $1.3 billion for 110 MW. That’s $11.8 million per MW.

    Is that the overnight or installed cost? Must be the completed cost.

    The most recent price of the final price for the Vogtle reactors was $15 billion for 2,238 MW. $6.7 million per MW. And Citigroup says that the Vogtle reactors at $15B will need $0.11/kWh to break even.

    Did I make a math error or is this plant gong to be producing $0.20+/kWh electricity?

    Saskatchewan could have run an extension cord down to North Dakota and bought some four cent wind….

    • You’ve nailed it Bob, however even though i agree that it’s painting an elephant white, the first of anything is always more expensive.

      I still see no future in the technology if solar and storage is going to be cheaper than coal, then it will be even cheaper than coal plus CCS.

      The worst part about it is that it’s a distraction and the $1.3B would have been better off building wind or solar or geothermal.

    • Wind goes for €1m installed cost per MW in Europe (EWEA), an order of magnitude less. Double that to get a fossil equivalent because of the lower capacity factor. It’s still a huge cost gap.

      Where can the economies of scale and learning come from to make CCS remotely competitive? Replication cuts design costs and avoids false starts, sure. You still have a very complicated piece of chemical engineering sitting on top of a reverse gas well, sold in dozens not thousands of units. I don’t see it myself.

    • Well, SK didn’t pay the full freight at least; the Feds reportedly subsidized this to the tune of $240 million. Doesn’t change the main conclusion, but is perhaps worth bearing in mind.

      • More: “The retrofit is located at Boundary Dam’s Unit 3. The project will capture 95% or 1Mt/yr. This project has been re-sized from an earlier plant to build a 300 MW clean coal facility near Estevan which had been shelved by the previous provincial government because of its escalating cost ($1.5 billion to $3.8 billion). This smaller scale project has occurred after the federal government gave the province $240 million.”

        According to the link, the original (2010) budget was $354 million, but I’m not clear if that was just to rebuild an aged plant, or if that included the CCS portion.

    • Im inrusteds solar pwer projects commisning
      All projects experts

    • Looks like the anticipated price for Hinkley Point is now $39.6 billion after they added in the cost of financing and site work to be done prior to construction. (That same old problem nuclear people have, forgetting that it costs to borrow money.)

      Two Areva NP’s EPR reactors with a net power output each of 1,600 MWe.

      $12.4 million per MW.

      What is wrong with Canadian, Australian, and UK governments? Even the French are making better decisions.

      • Hinkley looks like plain old corruption to me.

        As for this CCS plant in Canada, AFAIK the CO2 is being pumped down to help oil extraction. That’s the real economic value, not the CCS alone.

        It’s also a demonstration plant, so you expect it to cost more at first.

        • The CO2 has some economic value. If there’s a market.

          If you read the REneweconomy piece I linked you’ll see that this plant was scaled down in size because there was no customer for more CO2.

          As for getting the price down, remember that underneath all the gear used for containing the CO2 there’s a coal plant, and coal plants are simply too expensive to be competitive in today’s market.

          Hinkley looks to me like bullheaded stupidity. The action of people who have bought into a meme that renewables cannot do the job and have avoided doing any objective math.

          I envision a bunch of fossils who have their secretaries print out their emails for them to read then dictate the replies.

  • main thing is
    do not produce CO2 than you do not have to capture it
    this can be done by Wind and Solar.
    Canada has tear sands and lost its way on renewables. its a loose loose spiral.

    • That’s stupid. CO2 is not a pollutant. Plants breathe it and product Oxygen. It is essential for modern life on Earth as we know it.

      • Where have you been the past 20 years? CO2 levels have been steadily rising in the earths atmosphere and the ensuing entrapment of excess heat has produced Global Warming and violent climate change. Time to do some remedial reading

        • CO2 is logarithmically decreasing when it comes to being a Greenhouse gas. Do you know what that means? I’m sure you don’t. I’ll try to put it in little words that your brain *may* comprehend.

          It means that that the more CO2 you put in the air (keeping Atmospheric pressure constant) the less it warms up the Earth. At the current levels, doubling the amount of CO2 in the current atmosphere would increase the temperature of the earth by approximately 3 degrees Celsius or 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Here’s the kicker, we are not doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, we are increasing it by a few percentage points, resulting in .2 degrees Celsius change in temperature (approximately a 1/3 degree Fahrenheit degree increase.). Take that to the bank.

          • Jason: besides being an arrogant prig, you don’t know squat about science. “2 degree Celsius change in temperature (approximately a 1/3 degree Fahrenheit degree increase)”–you have the conversion ratio reversed. Also the increase in temperature of the earths atmosphere has to do with entrapment of re-radiated heat. Your explanation runs counter to reality. Are you getting your talking points from FOX news?

          • No I’m right.

          • Er, no, you are not, Jason.

            2 Celsius degrees equal 5.6 F, no matter how many times you insist otherwise. “A temperature difference of 1 deg C is the equivalent of a temperature difference 1.8°F.”


            Please find a less stupid point to troll on; this isn’t even smart enough to amuse.

          • See above comment regarding conversions–a dropped decimal has sown some confusion here.

          • Dude, I already admitted I used the wrong conversion chart. The theory is correct. If you want a correction, here it is (I’m not changing anything else).

            CO2 is logarithmically decreasing when it comes to being a Greenhouse gas. Do you know what that means? I’m sure you don’t. I’ll try to put it in little words that your brain *may* comprehend.

            It means that that the more CO2 you put in the air (keeping Atmospheric pressure constant) the less it warms up the Earth. At the current levels, doubling the amount of CO2 in the current atmosphere would increase the
            temperature of the earth by approximately 3 degrees Celsius or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Here’s the kicker, we are not doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, we are increasing it by a few percentage points, resulting in .2 degrees Celsius change in temperature (approximately a
            .36 degree Fahrenheit degree increase.). Take that to the bank.

          • I understand perfectly well that CO2’s effects do increase logarithmically. (Actually, that is true of any radiatively active gas, not just CO2–for example, power of methane as GHG is due in considerable part to the fact that its atmospheric concentrations are much lower than CO2.)

            And yes, 3 C is a reasonably central estimate of “ECS”–“equilibrium climate sensitivity.”

            However, as I posted in response to this error the first time you wrote it, it is NOT true that we are raising concentrations ‘a few percentage points’–well, not unless ‘a few’= ~40.

            See, for instance:


            That shows the directly measured increase since the late 50s–approximately 20%. But the best value for ‘pre-industrial’ CO2 is 280 ppm, which works out to the 40% or so I gave above.

            As to the future, we are currently emitting Co2 in a manner most similar to ‘RCP 8.5’, the worst of the AR5 emissions scenarios. As the graph below shows, if that scenario were to continue to play out, we’d be at roughly *2* doublings by the end of the current century. Even the milder RCP 6 would more than double pre-Industrial values.


          • First of all, it’s Logarithmically decreasing, not increasing.

            Second of all, it is not going to double by the end of the century and even if it did, life would go on. Three degress is not going to melt the caps. It’s negative something in Antartica, the ice isn’t going to melt.

          • Argh–typo: “do increase logarithmically” should of course read “*decrease* logarithmically.”

          • Humble pie–Jason is right about the conversion, because he *didn’t* say “2 C”, he said “.2 C,” which is indeed roughly .33 F.

            Of course, otherwise he is still totally out to lunch, as the anthropogenic increase in atmospheric CO2 is already ~40%.

      • That’s stupid. Pollutants are *often* elements that nourish life, but which in excessive amounts cause problems for the environment. Other prominent examples include potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen–commonplace elements of commercial fertilizers (unlike CO2) which can also cause ecological disruptions, such as algal blooms. When they do, they are rightly labeled ‘pollutants.’

        “Animal manure releases ammonia, a compound rich in nitrogen, into the atmosphere. Prevailing winds can then carry it a few kilometres where the nitrogen is deposited on soils and vegetation. The problem occurs when too much nitrogen lands on a nature reserve or in a river or lake and causes undue fertilization, or eutrophication, which in watercourses causes algal blooms that smothers and chokes other aquatic plants and animals and reduces biodiversity.”

        “Fertiliser ‘run-off’ from farms is also another source of agricultural pollution. It also causes eutrophication in rivers and water sources when nitrogen- and phosphorus-rich fertilisers are washed into rivers and ponds with detrimental effects.”

        • They are not in excess. That’s the problem with your argument.

          • LOL!

          • Jason: this is a clean technology site, not a forum for debating denialist trolling. Please go away and have your laughable misconceptions eviscerated at a climate science blog.

          • I’ll second that Jason.

            No more of your foolishness. Take the information others have given you and learn from it.

          • I’m not being foolish. The technology is foolish and stupid.

          • Coal with CCS makes no financial sense to me.

            But you weren’t talking about the technology, and you know that.

            If you have comments that address the topic you are welcome to post them. If you’re going to go off on a tangent you will be leaving us.

          • Thanks guys for putting up with those kinds of people day after day and staying that calm. I would explode probably 🙂

          • Thank you, Bob–though ‘eviscerating’ Mr. Hall would have been shooting fish in a barrel. But I suppose, as Heinlein said about something altogether different, that it would have been the sort of pleasure that ‘makes your soul all sticky.’

  • By reducing emissions to 10% of the previous amount at such a high economic cost, this will only hurt the consumer and drive the change to greener solutions. Hopefully Canadians aren’t so complacent as to let this slide by.

  • Do you know what happens when you pump CO2 underground? … it gets trapped there. Do you know what happens when you put too much CO2 underground? … It starts seeking through the cracks. Guess what will eventually happen? … It will escape (creating a seam and possibly a small earthquake.) Guest what happens then, someone wasted a whole bunch of money to accomplish NOTHING.

    How has this ever been a good idea?

    Think about it?

    • The CO2EOR industry, which injects CO2 into mature oil reservoirs to increase recovery, is currently injecting iabout 70 million metric tons CO2 annually into oil reservoirs, using over 10 thousand wellbores at over 150 sites. This is a mature technology, and the geoscience and engineering behind it are solid. But yes, some operators to do make mistakes and sites can be mis-managed. Please support strong regulation to minimize this. The CO2 from the Boundary Dam power plant will be injected into the Weyburn oil field primarly, but a small amount is planned to be injected at other sites as well.

      • From an Engineering standpoint, it makes absolutely no sense. The only way it makes even remote sense if it can be contained indefinitely (which it can’t be) and that it would actually make a difference in the environment (which it won’t).

  • Wow A new more expensive buggy whip. Now, where are the horses?

  • Saskatchewan is a province, not a “region.”

    • It must have taken a lot of mining to stop Saskatchewan existing as a region.

  • They use the captured co2 to increase oil extraction on old wells. More CO2! So they get a financial return on the captured co2 but the loop of carbon in the atmosphere is the same or greater. Secondly, wouldn’t it be better to capture CO2 off of natural gas fired plants? Already half the co2 of coal and no sulphur. But in the end these coal and gas plants must die the death of the steam engine, the sooner the better. Save the money from these desperate projects and turn it into Vanadium electricity storage research, or lithium battery subsidies, or giant pv factories.

    • Natural gas is methane (CH4) . It’s still carbon. How is that any better than coal? Educate yourself before you talk.

      • Perhaps you should follow your own advice–coal plants emit far more carbon than natural gas plants. That’s well-known.

        Of course, if you are trying to sell the CO2, as the Boundary Dam plant does, then the higher CO2 output is ‘not a bug, but a feature.’

      • Not any better. Just less to begin with. I advised that we should abandon co2 capture and invest in renewables. Cut the hostility.

  • its better than not capturing CO2. CO2 can be turned into plastics and fuels and buckytubes but very little research is being done.

    • Pumping it straight underground and converting it into plastics are completely different endeavors. If they could, that would be awesome.

      • I was corresponding with a guy named Mertens who discovered if you bubble CO2 through molten magnesium it generates graphene nanosheets. He’s not getting much support for that. Put that in you pipe and smoke it!

        • It would indeed be pretty awesome if the CO2 could be cheaply converted into a stable and useful product–‘cheaply’ being the crucial word.

          • One of the big chemical companies, Dow or somebody has been sitting on process to make polycarbonate plastics from CO2 since the mid 60s. They revived their R&D program now that theres a demand for it but they are proceeding very slowly.
            They could flood the world with cheap polycarbonate.

  • Misleading article. Only one of the 5 parts of this plant are supposed to capture carbon and turn it into a liquid. This liquid, which uses carbon produced energy to produce, is to be pumped 66 kms to force more oil out of the ground and this is be burned. So 90% of less than 20% of the plants carbon is supposed to be captured and used to produce oil that will increase atmospheric carbon.

    The local government as well as the Canadian federal government spent a whack of tax dollars to pull this off. Now they are promoting the technology and saying it will be used on coal plants around the world. Not at this price.

    This is a good example of how our conservative governments in Canada are clinging to a dirty brown coal process instead of renewable energy which they routinely ignore.

    • Something is desperately wrong with Canada, OZ, NZ. The axis of colonial stupidity perhaps?

  • The only reason carbon capture exists is its an attempt to salvage a soon to be/already dying industry. They wouldn’t be speeding the money if that wasn’t the case.

Comments are closed.