Alberta has invested billions into carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) projects and programs, as well as significant regulatory enhancements and knowledge sharing. This support includes funding from the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund.
CCUS development in Alberta
Alberta is among the leaders in CCUS, first as a pioneer injecting solvents into subsurface reservoirs for enhanced oil recovery in the late 1950s, then later conducting subsurface disposal of acid gases (including carbon dioxide) associated with natural gas processing. In 2010, Alberta developed Canada’s first comprehensive carbon sequestration legislation.
Alberta has several competitive advantages to enable CCUS and attract investment to the province:
- decades of experience in large-scale energy development
- decades of subsurface disposal and injection experience into geological formations
- extensive energy infrastructure and subsurface geologic storage capacity for CCUS
- Alberta is the first jurisdiction in Canada with an established regulatory and risk management framework in place for large-scale CCUS projects and pore space management
- experience with employing CCUS on a commercial scale with the Quest and Alberta Carbon Trunk Line projects
- proven track record of innovation and integrating emission reduction technology into energy production
- efficient regulatory oversight of subsurface development by the Alberta Energy Regulator
- commitment to best-in-class environmental standards as well as environmental, social and governance that provides certainty for investors
- strong partnerships with Indigenous communities and businesses to support Indigenous participation in resource development projects
- educated and experienced workforce who have the expertise and skills to support the global demand for clean energy
- direct financial incentives for petrochemical facilities using CCUS with the Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program
The Alberta government is investing $1.24 billion for up to 15 years in the Quest and Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) projects.
The Quest and ACTL projects in the province have safely captured and stored a total of more than 10.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) since 2015.
The funding for both projects was developed based on the 2008 project proposal. The process and the funding agreements are explained in the following documents for each project:
- Quest consolidated funding document (PDF, 2.1 MB)
- Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) funding document (PDF, 2.3 MB)
This project retrofitted Shell’s Scotford upgrader for carbon capture and storage (CCS). The project is capturing CO2 from oil sands upgrading and transporting it 65 km north for permanent storage approximately 2 km below the earth's surface.
Quest is designed to capture up to 1.08 million tonnes of CO2 per year (approximately 35% of the CO2 produced by the upgrader). The Quest Project is the world’s first application of CCS technology at an oil sands upgrader.
In 2010-11 an environmental assessment was completed.
Shell Canada Energy, the project operator for the Quest Project, has noted that since entering into operation in 2015, the Quest Project has captured and stored over 7 million tonnes of CO2. The annual injection amounts up to 2021 are listed below (taken from the project's knowledge sharing documents).
Table 1. Knowledge sharing injection amounts reported (in million tonnes)
Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) Project
The ACTL is a 240 km pipeline that carries CO2 captured from the Sturgeon Refinery and the Nutrien Redwater fertilizer plant to enhanced oil recovery projects in central Alberta.
The designed capacity of the ACTL pipeline is up to 14.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year, which will allow future CCUS projects to use it as the industry grows.
Enhance Energy Inc., the sequestration site operator for the ACTL Project, has noted that since entering into operation in 2020, the ACTL Project has captured and sequestered over 3.5 million tonnes of CO2.
The annual injection amounts up to 2021 are listed below (taken from the project's knowledge sharing documents).
Table 2. Knowledge sharing injection amounts reported (in million tonnes)
Alberta's investment in CCUS will also help make CCUS technologies more accessible. Both funded projects are required to share technical information and lessons learned. This will help future CCUS projects from around the world benefit from the lessons learned in Alberta. These reports are provided to the Government of Alberta, and the Government of Alberta has obtained a licence or other authorization for use of the reports. See Alberta's CCS Knowledge Sharing Program records, which include a disclaimer and full terms and conditions of use.
Separate records are available by year for both the Quest and Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) projects.
Grants and additional funding
Alberta Innovates (including its subsidiaries InnoTech Alberta and C-FER Technologies) and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) have invested over $200 million in more than 100 CCUS projects.
ERA has spent $162 million to support CCUS specific projects including most recently, $40 million in its Carbon Capture Kickstart program where it awarded funding to 11 projects.
- This funding is intended to lay the groundwork for significant future investments by supporting pre-construction studies for facility-specific opportunities. This investment will inspire shared learnings about the economic and emissions reduction potential of this critical technology and will position Alberta and Canada as developing CCUS technologies the world needs.
Alberta Innovates has provided $53 million in funding opportunities including supporting 43 CCUS related projects and providing financial support of approximately $24 million for the world-renowned Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre (ACCTC).
- Alberta Innovates has supported 43 CCUS related projects.
- Alberta’s Industrial Energy Efficiency program has provided grants worth $131 million, with $40 million related to CCUS projects.
- Alberta’s petrochemical incentive program has also provided approximately $600 million in financial support.
- Some of the awarded recipients, such as Air Products, have CCS as part of their project.
The ACCTC is a world-class piloting test centre for commercial-scale testing, de-risking CCUS technologies for industry and making them commercially viable. Clients will have the opportunity to evaluate new carbon capture and utilization technologies at a demonstration-scale using flue gas or concentrated CO2 from the amine-based capture unit, which is also available for research and development purposes. Professional services available include: engineering support for technology optimization; laboratory and analytical services; facility support services, and carbon capture unit research and development.
Industrial efficiency grant
The $131-million Industrial Energy Efficiency and Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (IEE CCUS) Grant Program is part of Alberta’s $750-million investment from the TIER fund to cut emissions, create jobs and contribute to Alberta’s economic recovery.
The IEE CCUS program is helping Alberta’s large industrial emitters:
- reduce emissions
- increase competitiveness
- lower carbon compliance costs
- improve energy efficiency through technology and equipment upgrades
Successful IEE CCUS program projects were chosen through a competitive evaluation process. Proposals were reviewed based on emissions reductions and benefits to industry competitiveness, job creation and economic resilience.
Seven successful projects funded by $100 million from the IEE CCUS program were announced publicly in November 2021. These projects include:
- Advantage Energy: Glacier Gas Plant Carbon Capture and Storage and Waste Heat Recovery in Hythe
- Ember Resources: Ember Engine Emissions Reduction Program at multiple facilities throughout east/central Alberta
- Imperial Oil: Kearl ConDex Full Scale Oil Sands Mine Installations in Fort McMurray
- NuVista Energy: Wembley Cogeneration and Waste Heat Recovery Project in Wembley
- Strathcona Resources: Lindbergh T70 Cogeneration Expansion in Elk Point
- TC Energy: Turner Valley Generating Station in Turner Valley
- Tidewater Midstream: BRC Integrated Steam Methane Reforming (SMR)-CCS-Cogeneration Project in Cynthia
The remaining $31 million in IEE CCUS program funding will be allocated to support more projects.
CCUS industry commitments and efforts
Continuing to develop this technology will help Alberta capitalize on emerging opportunities, such as clean hydrogen development, and reduce emissions in industries across the energy sector and other industries, including concrete and fertilizer.
Industry and stakeholders across Alberta and Canada are increasingly interested in CCUS and many have already taken significant steps to advance this technology.
In Alberta, the Quest and ACTL projects have safely captured and stored a total of more than 10.5 million tonnes of CO2 since 2015.
Other examples include:
- The oil sands producers’ Pathways Alliance has committed to carbon neutrality by 2050. The alliance is focusing on innovation and technology – such as CCUS – to reach its goal.
- Capital Power’s plan to apply CCS technology at the Genesee 1 and 2 plants.
- Dow’s plan to use CCUS and build the world’s first net-zero carbon emissions integrated ethylene cracker at its site in Fort Saskatchewan.
- Air Products net zero hydrogen complex.
Connect with Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage:
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