Experts feel we won’t achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2050 unless we use technologies such as Carbon Sequestration, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) on a large-scale. CCS is the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO₂) formed during power generation and industrial processes and storing it so that it is not emitted into the atmosphere.
At Pieridae, we are doing our part by advancing the Caroline Carbon Capture Power Complex. This large-scale CCS and blue power production complex will be located at our Caroline Gas Plant in Alberta.
The Complex will capture and store underground up to three million tonnes of CO₂ annually produced by the gas processing facility, power production at site and third parties. Every year, that’s the equivalent of taking more than 650,000 cars off the road, or eliminating 4.4 billion kilowatt-hours of coal-fired power, enough electricity to power more than 610,000 homes annually.
The underground depleted gas reservoir that will store the carbon has enough capacity to sequester up to 100 million tonnes of CO₂ over three-plus decades.
This initiative positions Pieridae to play a key role in helping to lower overall Canadian greenhouse gas emissions. By capturing and storing carbon on such a large scale, we move further down the strategic path of ensuring our company is net carbon negative.
Business Development Engineer and former Project Lead Hesanka Garusinghe did a lot of the heavy lifting for the project before leaving the company recently. He says what sets Pieridae apart with its CCS project is that the company will reuse and repurpose existing infrastructure at Caroline. But what a lot of people don't know is this project was originally proposed by Shell, where Hesanka used to work.
“It was close to five years ago when Shell started looking at how could they make the Caroline Gas Complex fit for the future and deal with emissions regulations,” says Hesanka. “So, they analyzed potential options, including CCS, but at that time, there wasn't enough government policy certainty to pursue that option. But they did do a lot of detailed work on a similar project and had progressed it quite far to where half of the work needed was completed.”
Hesanka says Pieridae’s initiative is an exciting opportunity and he was grateful to lead it in the development stage.
“We're trying to build up to a gigawatt of power generation, clean power generation, and then up to three million tons of CO₂ stored underground. The project includes a combined cycle, gas fired power generation unit, where its emissions are captured and the resulting clean power is both used at site and also sold to the Alberta grid. You are also capturing the CO₂ produced from the gas processing facilities. So, we're going to start with phase one which is a smaller, 100 megawatt unit power generation unit.”
Hesanka reminds us most Albertans get their power from coal fired plants. Once those plants are retired, which the provincial government is commitment to doing by 2023, or even once the coal plants are decommissioned, the majority of the province’s power will still come from older natural gas-fired facilities that do not have a CCS component. So, he adds, the entire Alberta grid is essentially not as efficient or cleaner than the power component of Pieridae’s initiative - your output is both clean power and green natural gas and liquids coming out of the plant.
With the Canadian Government committing at the 2021 COP26 meeting in Glasgow, Scotland to stronger emissions restrictions for the country’s oil and gas sector, your ability to limit or eliminate emissions across the value chain becomes paramount. Canada’s energy industry has big plans for carbon capture and storage to help meet whatever targets come its way but as Calgary Herald energy journalist Chris Varcoe asked in one of his columns: will producing oil with carbon capture technology allow for continued, or even additional, production as Canada moves toward a net-zero target by 2050?
That is a key question, and one Varcoe asked Canada’s new Environment and Climate Change Minister and self-proclaimed activist Steven Guilbeault when he was in Calgary meeting with leaders of local oil and gas companies. His response: “In theory, if it’s carbon-free oil, it could. But will the demand be there in the same way it is now, I think is a fair question to be asking. “My issue has always been with pollution. But I’m part of a government that has been very clear on this: We’re not going after production; we are going after the emissions.”
Pieridae will do just that – focus on analyzing what it can do with its emissions.
Hesanka Garusinghe has done his CCS research, analyzing other projects such as the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line, Saskatchewan’s Boundary Dam CC Project, and Shell’s Quest initiative. All have provided helpful insight and data through the Alberta and Canadian Governments used to progress Pieridae’s venture.
“You're able to calibrate some of your cost side and some of the concepts on the capture side, transportation and storage to be able to create a more credible project. That's where, for example, Shell’s Quest project gave some indications on dollar per time, and then you were able to compare and calibrate to make sure you're within similar numbers so it all makes sense. And then the Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan, where it was using some of the same capture chemicals we would use, which gives a good performance analysis of an actual operational project,” explains Hesanka.
He adds the next important step is an updated feasibility study to gain a good understanding of project costs and how to best achieve the CO₂ capture and sequestration that you want to do. The good news here is that money to complete this study is part of Pieridae’s 2022 budget.
Hesanka continues to cheer on the Caroline Carbon Power Complex initiative and the opportunities it would provide.
“There is the opportunity to produce a gigawatt of clean power where most of it could be added back to the Alberta's grid and clean that up,” says Hesanka. “I know the Alberta Government is looking at potentially 2035 to have a clean electricity grid, right? So, I think that would definitely help in the short term to get there faster and as a reliable base load source of power to support renewables.
“Pieridae already has a great transmission and distribution infrastructure at the Caroline plant that would be advantageous to upgrade rather than looking at other sites where you'd have to do a lot of upgrades. And our project location itself is very central to Alberta. So, that's where, we could help other industrial facilities and other power generation facilities sequester their CO₂. That gives a lot of capacity to build that grid or a hub that can help others be able to lower their emissions and become clean operations as well.”