CCUS potential in Canada: key takeaways from the 1st annual “Carbon Capture Canada” conference.

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The first annual conference “Carbon Capture Canada 2022” took place in late September, in Edmonton, Canada. The event aimed at showcasing Canada’s unique opportunity for development of carbon capture and underground storage technologies, as well as positioning the country as a key global investment destination.

The conference was attended by incredible speakers from leading international energy companies and local players, like Enbridge, Svante, Vallourec, Tenaris, Wolf Midstream, LaFarge, ENMAX, and Shell. Shell has an impressive CCUS footprint in Canada. It all started back in late 2015 with the Quest CCS project in Alberta, the facility that was designed to capture one million tons of CO2 and safely store it 2 km underground. As of today, Quest has captured and stored 6+ million tons of CO2. All Global CCUS facilities currently capture and store 45 million tons of CO2. Canada contributes 15% to the Global CO2 capture and storage. However, country hopes to more than double that percentage by 2030, aiming at capturing 15 million tons of CO2 annually.

Interesting fact: if Shell’s Quest was planned today, and not a couple of years back, its CAPEX would be 30+% less! Shell continues to learn lessons from the start-up of its first large-scale CCUS project in Canada, and it expects that its other CCUS facilities (Polaris and Scotford) will further test and validate the concept and technology.

Canada has a favorable environment for CCUS and blue hydrogen projects: abundant natural gas, proper geology for storage … However, industry leaders expect common effort and collaboration between sectors. Proper regulation, setting the price for carbon and clear policies are still required. Players believe, if a law similar to the recently passed US Inflation Reduction Act was implemented in Canada, it would create a better business environment.

De-risking investment in capture process, which accounts for almost 80% of initial spending, is crucial for projects to move forward. Canada is still considered as a risky CCUS investment destination and cannot compete with the US. The need to close the gap in carbon pricing, invest in innovation, and ensure shared infrastructure – all should see a solution from the government and energy players in the short term. Other elements, like choosing a proper location for safe CO2 storage and understanding its geology, are also important to ensure the reliability of CCUS operations. Conference speakers highlighted the need for CCUS hub creation. Today, high emitters have to wait for hubs to be developed, and for infrastructure (e.g. pipelines) to be built.

CCUS continues to emerge as a low-cost solution, and it is vital for achieving the net-zero goals. This solution is essential for:

  • Deep decarbonization.
  • Low-carbon hydrogen production.
  • Low-carbon dispatchable power distribution.
  • Negative emissions.

Today, Canada’s energy industry players share cautious optimism when it comes to emissions reduction efforts and CCUS facilities development. “Key to more CCS is CCS”, as was mentioned by one of the conference speakers. Three main pillars of CCUS success in the country are 1) predictability (understanding the development of the market); 2) simplicity (clear policy needs to be in place) and 3) patience & time to ensure the viability of CCUS processes.

At Schneider Electric, we address the entire CCUS value chain, and optimize and secure related processes by combining hardware and software, to deliver reliable and sustainable operations. With AVEVA, we provide automation around carbon capture, process optimization, and simulation, as well as energy efficiency improvement. We support CCUS projects, from design to FID and CO2 transportation, and storage.

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