VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Canadian fossil energy company Suncor has launched applications with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) to replace coke-fired boilers with two cogeneration units at its oil sands Base Plant, which will add 700 MW of oil sands cogeneration.
The plants will serve two purposes: providing steam needed for its operations, and generating 700 MW of electricity that will be sold to the provincial grid – the equivalent of roughly 7% of Alberta's current electricity demand.
The project is expected to offer base load reliability to Alberta's electricity grid as the province transitions to more intermittent renewable energy sources, while contributing lower carbon power supply to Alberta.
"We believe that bold, ambitious action is required by all of us to effectively tackle the climate change challenge. Cogeneration provides an emissions and cost reduction opportunity for Suncor's operations and contributes low-carbon power for the province of Alberta,” said Suncor president and CEO Steve Williams.
The 700 MW of power from these cogeneration units are expected to come on line as the provincial supply of electricity is expected to decrease on the back of the phase-out of coal-fired electricity. Suncor said industrial cogeneration's ability to supply significant volumes of reliable base load electricity at a lower carbon intensity than combined cycle natural gas technology supports Alberta's transition towards more sustainable energy sources.
Suncor currently has cogeneration units installed at its oil sands Base Plant, Firebag, MacKay River and Fort Hills facilities, and exports low-carbon excess electricity generated from these units to the provincial grid.
Suncor said it will continue to evaluate the project, with the final construction decision expected to be made by the fourth quarter of 2018. Should the project proceed as planned, construction is targeted to start in 2019, with commissioning of the cogeneration units expected to begin by 2022.