CALGARY, ALTA. – Suncor Energy announced plans to replace its coke-fired boilers with two cogeneration units at its Oil Sands Base Plant. The cogeneration units will provide reliable steam generation required for Suncor’s extraction and upgrading operations and generate 800 megawatts (MW) of power. The power will be transmitted to Alberta’s grid, providing reliable, baseload, low-carbon power, equivalent to approximately 8 per cent of Alberta’s current electricity demand. The project is expected to increase demand for natural gas from Western Canada.
“This is a great example of how Suncor deploys capital in projects that are economically robust, sustainability minded and technologically progressive,” said Mark Little, president and chief executive officer. “This project generates economic value for Suncor shareholders and provides baseload, low-carbon power equivalent to displacing 550,000 cars from the road, approximately 15 per cent of vehicles currently in the province of Alberta.”
Suncor anticipates the project will cost $1.4 billion and be completed in 2023. Officials stated that they expect the project will substantially contribute to the company’s goal of an increased $2 billion in free funds flow by 2023. This will be achieved through Oil Sands operating cost and sustaining capital reductions along with margin improvements. It will also contribute materially to Suncor’s publicly announced GHG goal.
According to Suncor, swapping the coke-fired boilers for cogeneration will reduce steam production GHG emissions at Base Plant by roughly a one-fourth. It is also expected to reduce sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by approximately 45 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. The cogeneration units make the gas desulphurization (FGD) unit unnecessary. The unit is currently used to reduce sulphur emissions associated with coke fuel. Decommissioning the FGD unit will reduce the volume of water the company withdraws from the Athabasca River by approximately 20 per cent.
By producing both industrial steam and electricity through a single natural gas-fuelled process, cogeneration is the most energy-efficient form of hydrocarbon-based power generation. Suncor believes this project will contribute to both Alberta and Canada’s climate goals.