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Saskatchewan's Boundary dam carbon capture project underperforms, report says



A prominent carbon capture initiative in Saskatchewan, known as the Boundary Dam project, has fallen short of its emissions reduction objectives, according to a recent report. The report, authored by David Schissel for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, suggests that the efficacy of carbon capture technology may not match the claims made by industry advocates.


The Boundary Dam project, operated by SaskPower, was designed to capture a significant portion of carbon emissions from a coal-fired power plant. Initial projections aimed for a capture rate of up to 90%, equivalent to mitigating emissions from hundreds of thousands of cars annually. However, Schissel's analysis reveals that the actual capture rate has averaged around 57%, well below the target.


This underperformance is further corroborated by a 2022 report from the International CCS Knowledge Centre, which highlights technical limitations and industry demand for captured carbon dioxide as factors hindering the project's success.


While there have been improvements in the plant's performance over time, it has yet to achieve its intended targets. Despite capturing approximately six million tonnes of carbon dioxide, the project has not operated at full capacity consistently.


SaskPower and the Knowledge Centre acknowledge the challenges but maintain that the project has provided valuable insights for future carbon capture endeavors. However, skeptics like Schissel argue that the technology must function nearly flawlessly to justify its implementation on a large scale.


Similar sentiments are echoed regarding other carbon capture projects, such as Shell's Quest project near Edmonton, which also fell short of its capture rate goals.


The debate over the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of carbon capture technology persists, with some questioning its viability compared to alternative emission reduction strategies. As industries grapple with the imperative to decarbonize, the future of carbon capture remains uncertain, with ongoing discussions about its role in combating climate change and the allocation of resources for its development.


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