SaskPower partners with mining giant BHP on carbon capture research

SaskPower is partnering with mining giant BHP Billiton to further global research on carbon capture and storage technology.

Under a memorandum of understanding, BHP will contribute to the establishment of a global knowledge centre to promote research and reduce the cost and risk of new carbon capture projects.

The government-owned utility and BHP will also share access to data, information, and lessons learned from SaskPower’s $1.4-billion Boundary Dam facility, which the utility describes as the world’s first complete large-scale carbon capture project.

SaskPower says the Boundary Dam 3 project captures 90 per cent of the plant’s carbon dioxide emissions, which is equivalent to taking 250,000 vehicles off the road.

Carbon capture technology has been criticized for its high cost and for not eliminating carbon emissions from power generation.

BHP Billiton chief commercial officer Dean Dalla Valle said in a statement that a wide range of low-emission technologies are needed to respond effectively to climate change, but that progress remains too slow.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said in a statement that he was happy the partnership will make carbon capture and storage more accessible to the world.

In late August, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Sheldon Whitehouse along with Congressman Tom Rice toured the Boundary Dam project. Coal accounts for roughly 39 per cent of U.S. electricity production and it is the world’s second-largest coal producer.

BHP Billiton is the world’s largest supplier of seaborne metallurgical coal, used in steel production, and also a major global supplier of thermal coal for power plants. The company also owns the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan.