CCS and Coal Still a Priority for Saskatchewan

To the Editor: SaskPower’s recent decision not to retrofit Boundary Dam 4 and 5 with CCS was difficult. Our government, with support from communities like Estevan, has been steadfast in our support for this technology, and we continue to believe it will be an important part of future power generation and emissions reductions around the world. However, due to several factors such as the size of BD 4 and 5, the low cost of natural gas and the age of the infrastructure, there was not a business case to be made for CCS on these facilities.


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I want to be clear, coal will continue to be a valuable part of power generation at SaskPower for the foreseeable future.  We have been working diligently to have an equivalency agreement signed with our federal counterparts to allow units 4 and 5 to run until December of 2021 and 2024, respectively. We know how important this agreement is to employees, the mining industry and the community, just as it is for SaskPower. I am confident we will reach an agreement soon.


BD 6 will continue to operate up to 2028 and Poplar River 1 and 2 and Shand will continue to operate until 2030. BD 3 will continue to be operational beyond 2030. These units represent more than 1,300 megawatts of generating capacity. Coal generation and the jobs associated with it are not going away anytime soon.


The decision on BD 4 and 5 does not signal the end of our commitment to CCS, nor does it diminish the progress we have made on this front. We have seen results by sequestering over two million tonnes of carbon dioxide since the project came online, the equivalent of removing 500,000 vehicles from Saskatchewan roads. Saskatchewan is a leader in this technology, and if we are going to reduce emissions globally, CCS is a way to achieve these goals.


Decisions on retrofitting the remaining facilities will not be made for several years, and we are actively looking at options for CCS on these facilities. Specifically, a study on the feasibility of CCS on Shand Power Station is currently underway.  We look forward to seeing those results in the future.


The federal government has mandated that conventional coal be phased out by 2030. While this limits SaskPower’s options for future power generation, please be assured we are committed to the people and jobs in Estevan. The coal industry will be a valuable part of SaskPower’s generation for years to come.