October 2, 2006

$33M Alberta study seeks clean coal technology options

One of the first projects to receive support under Alberta's new $200 million Energy Innovation Fund is a three-year, $33-million clean coal technology research study. The Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) study is being undertaken by the Alberta Energy Research Institute (AERI), the Canadian Clean Power Coalition (CCPC) and Epcor.

The partners will work to find the best design for a power generation facility equipped with technology capable of removing significant percentages of emissions, including nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, mercury and carbon dioxide from the Alberta coal to be used as its feedstock. Epcor's Genesee site outside Edmonton will host the study.

"By converting coal into gas, and capturing carbon dioxide, we can create electricity that's even cleaner than the best natural gas facility operating today," said CCPC chair Dr David Lewin.

AERI will contribute one-third of the project costs ($11 million) over three years out of monies allocated from the Energy Innovation Fund. Epcor and CCPC are responsible for the balance of the funding, and they are inviting participation by other stakeholders.

The results of the study will be available to CCPC members and to Alberta companies. The FEED study will provide investors information they need to make decisions regarding the construction of a commercial demonstration plant. If the results are positive, a demonstration facility may be built, with completion expected about 2015.

Clean coal technology refers to systems and processes that virtually eliminate air and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal-fired power plants. To date, research and development for the engineering design of coal-fired facilities has concentrated on eastern U.S. bituminous coal.

The FEED study will provide better understanding of designs for a facility to remove a significant percentage of emissions from Alberta's sub-bituminous coals, which have lower sulfur and mercury content, and lower heat value than the types of coals in other jurisdictions. The CCPC says the air and CO2 emissions from its coal-fired demonstration plants will be lower than those from the world's best combined-cycle gas turbine.

The CCPC represents Canadian coal and coal-fired electricity producers. Its mandate is to research, develop and demonstrate commercially-viable clean coal technology. The Coalition's members and partners include: ATCO Power, Epcor, Luscar, SaskPower, TransAlta, Nova Scotia Power, Basin Electric Power Co-operative, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and the governments of Canada, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

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