When the Boundary Dam coal plant in Saskatchewan opened the world’s first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage operation in 2014, it was supposed to save a million tonnes of carbon pollution each year.
Instead, seven years later, the $1.35-billion project — the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding — has captured just four million tonnes, according to an announcement last month by its operator, the provincial utility SaskPower.
SaskPower employees and others have shown in a research paper how the carbon-capture facility “experienced unforeseen operational challenges and design oversights,” which hurt its performance and reliability.
What’s more, the project has abandoned its original goal of capturing 90 per cent of the carbon pollution emitted, settling for just 65 per cent, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said in an April 20 briefing note.
“The carbon capture is not working as well as they expected,” said IEEFA’s David Schlissel, director of resource planning analysis, in an interview Tuesday. “It’s clear they’ve had problems with the technology.”