Canadian Consulting Engineer

Canada developing a clean coal plant

Natural Resources Canada is investing $1.66 million in a project to test the feasibility of building a coal-power p...

February 11, 2003   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Natural Resources Canada is investing $1.66 million in a project to test the feasibility of building a coal-power plant that will eliminate virtually all airborne pollutants and carbon dioxide from the coal-burning process.

The project is led and sponsored by the Canadian Clean Power Coalition (CCPC), a partnership of companies that account for most of Canada’s coal-fired electricity generation. The first phase consists of studies to determine which of three technologies is most cost-effective in capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) and removing other pollutants. The options include oxyfuel combustion; chemically stripping the pollutants from flue gases; and gasification technologies that can convert coal into cleaner fuel forms.

The Coalition plans to retrofit an existing coal-burning power plant by 2007 to produce at least 50 per cent fewer CO2 emissions. The full-scale demonstration facility will be used to test the technical, environmental and economic viability of new clean coal-burning technology. By 2010, the coalition hopes to develop a new plant, capable of reducing emissions by up to 90 per cent, which will serve as a prototype for future plant construction.

Coal plays a vital role in Canada’s energy mix, accounting for about 20 to 25 per cent of our total electrical supply. Coal is also a major source of electricity in the United States, India, China and east European countries.
However, it is also a major source of greenhouse gases and pollutants such as mercury. In February, the United Nations Environment Program pointed out that coal-fired power stations and waste incinerators account for 1,500 tons, or 70 per cent of man-made mercury emissions to the atmosphere. The lion’s share is from developing countries, with emissions from Asia, at 860 tons, the highest.

“Coal will continue to be an important part of our energy mix for decades to come, provided that we learn to use this energy source in a climate-friendly and clean way,” said the Honourable David Anderson, Canada’s Minister of the Environment, when the clean coal project funding was announced in January. “It’s exciting to see some of Canada’s biggest energy companies working together to develop and demonstrate that this is possible.”

The Canadian companies involved in the Clean Coal Power Coalition are ATCO Power, EPCOR, Luscar, Nova Scotia Power, Ontario Power Generation, SaskPower and TransAlta Corporation. Other partners include the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Electric Power Research Institute in the United States, and the International Energy Agency’s Greenhouse Gas R&D Program and Clean Coal Centre.


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