By Brent Lyon
Albertan companies’ ability to produce products, energy or otherwise, with low carbon intensity has become increasingly important. Looming global market shifts like carbon border adjustments mean that Canadian businesses won’t just need the tools to decarbonize, their survival depends on it. Fortunately, Alberta has an ace up its sleeve – carbon capture and storage. There is a lot of talk about Alberta’s global edge in producing low-carbon energy,but what specific advantages does the province have? This blog will offer insight into the three major factors that make Alberta a global leader in CCUS (carbon capture, utilization and storage) – location, permitting and scale.
Location, location, location. Some resources are easier to acquire, and favourable project economics will follow. Nordic countries have neither the geology nor the permitting process to allow for on-shore carbon sequestration, so CO2 must be captured at sea. To reach these vaults, CO2 must be piped or shipped about 100 km offshore, then pumped down 700 m below the surface of the North Sea, and then another 2.6 km into the seabed. In contrast, Alberta sits directly atop massive saline aquifers suitable for carbon storage, stretching across the province and touching borders with British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and Montana.
Project permitting is a central concern for any developer, which applies to CO2 injection wells. In the United States, the EPA established a special Class 6 designation for CO2 injection wells in 2010. Since then, six permits have been approved, and only two are in operation. The permitting process for Class 6 wells takes roughly six years.Alberta has long been viewed as a favourable location for resource permitting, and for good reason! The AER categorizes CO2 injection wells as Class 3 if their true vertical depth is less than 6000m; permitting process time for these wells is only 65 business days.
Finally, we get to scale. Climate change is the defining issue of our time and requires drastic action.Alberta’s CO2 storage capacity is estimated at more than 100 billion tonnes. If you multiply this figure by a target carbon price of $170/tonne, this pore space becomes a $17 trillion resource. The Government of Alberta has already selected 25 proponents to develop carbon storage hubs. This resource can deliver value as a sink for atmospheric carbon and as a mechanism for decarbonizing Alberta’s energy reserves.
Location, permitting and scale are the primary factors that put Alberta on the world stage for low-carbon energy. Otherforces at play include government funding, local technology advancement, and industry collaboration. For those interested in reading more on the subject, we recommend the following links:
Carbon capture, utilization and storage – Leadership | Alberta.ca
Whether your company is at the early stages and needs a feasibility study of carbon capture strategies or has progressed to the point where pilot or commercial-scale projects are being implemented, Scovan is here to help you efficiently get the answers and deliverables you need to help your company adapt to market demands for low-carbon intensity products.
Want to know more or discuss what we can bring to your project?
Brent Lyon, Director Business Development
> [email protected]
Valerie Stewart, VP Business Development
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