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Meaningful Action on Climate Change Will Have to Deal with Growing International Use of Coal

Released on April 14, 2015

Premier Brad Wall said today that with 30 per cent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions coming from coal-fired electricity and its forecasted expansion in both emerging economies and countries like Japan and Germany carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in the power generation sector is essential to achieve world-wide reductions.

Speaking this morning at a provincial summit on climate change in Quebec City, Wall said that coal will continue to be a major source of energy for many countries for the foreseeable future and any meaningful reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs) like CO2 will only occur when power companies reliant on coal as a fuel source adopt CCS.

"While the discussions at this conference as to what we are doing in Canada are important, we need to remember that Canada is responsible for under 2.0 per cent of global C02 emissions while China, for example, with its plans to aggressively expand coal-fired electricity generation is responsible for 24.5 per cent of global emissions," Wall said.  "We are kidding ourselves if we desire a positive global impact and are not focused on technological solutions to make world-wide base-load generation more sustainable."

Wall said that means both the deployment of cleaner coal technology developed and now operating in Saskatchewan and nuclear power will be necessary.

At the conference, Wall touted SaskPower’s Boundary Dam 3 project and the International Energy Agency’s CO2 storage site as examples of the leading-edge work taking place in Saskatchewan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Boundary Dam 3 is the first commercial power plant in the world to be equipped with a fully integrated post-combustion carbon capture system.

The carbon capture system at BD3 captures 90 per cent of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to taking about 250,000 vehicles off the road, roughly the number of vehicles operating in the City of Regina.

Wall said CCS has a pivotal role to play in the mitigation of climate change because coal-fired electricity continues to power economies in countries like China and India, which are responsible for nearly 25 per cent and six per cent of the world's GHG emissions respectively.  By contrast, Canada accounts for just 1.7 per cent of total GHG emissions, while the Alberta oil sands are responsible for less than .15 per cent of global GHG emissions.

Wall noted the International Energy Agency expects coal to surpass oil as the world's most used energy source in the near future.

China, which is building one coal-fired power plant every 11 days, uses coal to generate about 75 per cent of its electricity.  In 2015, China expects to add 38,000 megawatts of coal-fired power - more than nine times SaskPower's entire generating capacity - after adding 36,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity in 2014.

Meanwhile, Japan has 43 coal fired power projects under construction or under review.  And India has plans to quadruple its coal power capacity in the years ahead.

“The technology we’ve pioneered in Saskatchewan has worldwide application for other countries, other economies,” Wall told his fellow premiers and territorial leaders.

Wall told the meeting that SaskPower's global CCS consortium is attracting attention from around the world.  Representatives from more than 20 companies have visited BD 3 and are interested in assessing operational data from the project.

SaskPower is expected to attract more international visitors later this year when it opens its carbon capture test facility at Shand Power Station near Estevan.

A collaboration with Hitachi, the CCS test facility will host companies wanting to test their processes at a commercial power plant. 

The premier told the conference that the International Energy Agency has identified carbon capture and storage as an “essential technology” in limiting temperature increases from global warming.  He also noted the Pembina Institute - one of Canada's foremost environmental groups - has described the BD3 project as “precedent-setting” in targeting emissions associated with the most important source of greenhouse gas pollution.

The premier told the summit that each province and territory has to develop its own regional approach on climate change policy, while contributing to positioning Canada overall as a global leader in emissions-reducing technologies.

“In Saskatchewan we have chosen to develop a technology that will have an immediate impact, a technology that will allow us to square the circle of slashing greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring our economic growth continues,” Wall said.


For more information, contact:

Kathy Young
Executive Council
Phone: 306-787-0425
Cell: 306-526-8927

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