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Carbon capture industry likely to fail, according to analysis

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Carbon capture and storage projects are more likely to fail rather than succeed, according to a new industry assessment by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

The study found 10 of 13 CCS flagship projects missed its targets, seven underperformed, two failed and one mothballed.

"A lot of government money and a lot of private money has been poured into this industry and it’s still producing projects that don't work," said Bruce Robertson, energy finance analyst and co-author of IEEFA report.

The report said Saskatchewan’s Boundary Dam failed to meet its goal on a daily basis.

(Source: IEEFA “The Carbon Capture Crux: Lessons learned” report)

The power station had two instances where it was offline in 2021, which played a role in lower numbers, according to SaskPower.

"We experienced some technical issues, but since those issues have been resolved, the plant has been operating within our expectations," said Scott McGregor with SaskPower.

SaskPower said it continually hits its target of 2,800 tonnes of carbon captured a day and captured about 68 per cent of CO2 generated from the coal unit.

Robertson said even successful projects like the Quest CCS project in Alberta use a lot of energy.

"We worked out that about 21 per cent of supposed carbon savings were actually used up in actually collecting the carbon dioxide," said Robertson.

The U.K. based environmental activist group called Global Witness, conducted a study on Quest in early 2022. It said Quest and other CCS projects have done more harm than good.

"Carbon capturing storage is a fantastic idea in theory, unfortunately, it stops at the theory," Dominic Kavakeb with Global Witness said.

Kavakeb added in order for carbon emissions to be reduced, fossil fuel use needs to stop altogether.

SaskPower aims for a net zero future by 2050, but it’s a long path forward since coal accounted for 41 per cent of Saskatchewan’s power generation in 2019.

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