Carbon $eque$tration

Saskpower, the government owned utility, has announced that they are going to go ahead with a coal fired plant with carbon sequestration.  The CO2 will be removed from the stack, and sent into old oil wells to enhance their production.
The cost of this proposed plant is $758 million, for a 100 MW plant.  This is a shocking number.

$758 million would build about 330 MW of wind, which in Saskatchewan would have capacity factors in the high 30’s.  330 MW of wind would produce an average of about 125 MW, with no fuel cost, very low maintenance cost, and no technical risk, as wind is well proven technology.

By contrast, the coal fired plant would produce perhaps an average of 85 – 90 MW if they are lucky, and is fraught with technical risk.  After all, a commercial scale plant has never been built before.  It may be closer than nuclear fusion, but the economics are equally unclear.

From these basic numbers, it would seem the cost of power from this plant will be roughly double the cost of wind power.  At that price, you can spend an awful lot to shift load/build back up for wind power, to provide power when winds are light.

The Federal government is giving $250 million to support the project.  I sure hope their agreements ensure that the learning and experience gained from this project are available to the public and industry at no charge.  It is a grand expensive experiment.  Let’s hope it works.

But lets also think about installing more of what we know does work.

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