By Lara Abu-Ghazaleh
The heart of Canada’s petroleum industry has adopted a new technology that is said to reduce carbon emissions by 80 to 90 per cent. Alberta and the Federal government recently announced their investment in carbon capture and storage for their oil sands operations and coal fuelled electricity plants.
David deMontigny, an assistant professor of Industrial Systems Engineering at the University of Regina, insists that this process is legitimate. “Gas treating technologies have been around for a long time, and they can be considered to be a proven technology.” The costs of building these additions are quite pricey however, and there are no current legislated emission targets for carbon dioxide, said deMontigny.
The process involves a network of pipes that are used to collect the carbon dioxide and carry it to underground storage. Capturing and compressing carbon dioxide require a lot of energy that essentially increases the fuel demands of a plant anywhere from 11 to 40 percent.
Experts agree that carbon capture and storage will have a positive outcome for Alberta. Research shows that Alberta will cut down about 70 per cent of the 200 megatonne-reduction by 2050. Up to $500 million could be directed towards these initiatives, including allocations through the Canada ecoTrust and the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund. After 2012, both the oil sands and the coal fuelled electricity plants will have to eliminate all emissions through capture and storage or other new technology according to the Federal government plan.
In an interview with edienews reporter, Kate Martin, Alberta’s premiere, Ed Stalmach, says that this new plan ensures environmental protection while allowing for continued economic growth. “Like others around the globe, we’re working to find the right balance between development and conservation. It is practical, achievable, encourages innovation, and sets realistic goals for industry.”