A new study shows that carbon capture technology could be installed at the Shand Power Station near Estevan. The cost of the upgrades would be about $1 billion. The study was completed by the International CCS knowledge Centre with contribution from Sask Power and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and their affiliated company.

“What this study finds is that the capital costs is reduced by 67 per cent on a per tonne CO2 basis, so it would be in the range of a billion dollars to build a facility such as this,” said Cowyrn Bruce of the, Shand CCS Feasibility Study.

Bruce, who led the study and Beth Hardy, the VP of strategy Stakeholder Relations said if Shand was converted into a carbon capture coal powered station the costs would be less than when Boundary Dam Unit #3 was converted to carbon capture technology in 2014. The researchers said the Boundary Dam Unit #3 conversion cost more because it was the first facility to be fitted with the new technology.

“Boundary Dam 3 was first generation of CCS technology and as such there were a lot of redundancies and extra parts put into the plant to deal with some of the unknowns related to operating this facility,” said Bruce. “Now with the four years of experience that SaskPower has on operating the Boundary Dam Unit #3 facility, some of these features are no longer required and wouldn’t be required for second generation.”

Shand was commissioned in 1992 and is a 300 megawatt lignite fire facility. Shand is SaskPower’s newest coal fired facility and is twice the size of Boundary Dam. The researchers say more savings come from building a carbon capture facility that is twice the size of Boundary Dam #3.

“This has been a common theme in power generation industry and this study shows that by building it twice as big the costs are not twice as high,” said Bruce. “We call that the benefits of scale. So as you get to a bigger facility the costs per tonne of CO2 capture goes down and in fact that happened on this study and in fact that’s major to the cost reduction.”

Meaning another factor that the researchers found was if Shand was converted into carbon capture technology, there could be a huge reduction in carbon dioxide.

“This first most significant finding is the capital cost reductions on a per tonne CO2 basis,” said Bruce. “So what we’re seeing with this study is potential for 67 per cent capital cost reduction versus what was experiences on Boundary Dam.”

The federal government has announced that in 2030, all coal powered stations will be shut down unless they use carbon capture or sequester technology.

“To see what we could do based on the learnings we had from Boundary Dam 3,” said Bruce. “CCS throughout the world faces challenges related to the cost and we thought that we could improve that cost footprint.”

The provincial government said it doesn’t have to make a decision about the future of Shand until the middle of the next decade, but added the new report is encouraging.

"If we see other jurisdictions around the world looking at advancing the second generation technology maybe by that time we could see even further reductions,” said Dustin Duncan, Minister in Charge of SaskPower. “There (are) a lot of unknowns at this point, but I think it does provide at a high level some encouraging news that this is certainly worth pursuing."