The Alberta government announced a first shortlist Thursday of eligible bidders for provincially owned geological formations needed for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) sites.

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“If developed, these hubs will help safely grow and diversify Alberta’s energy sector and reduce emissions for multiple industries,” said the provincial government. 

CCUS projects would reflect a key provincial strategy for hitting national and international greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.

The initial lineup of bidders would deploy projects in the heavily industrialized area around the Alberta capital in Edmonton. The Edmonton-area approved bidder list includes:

  • Meadowbrook Hub Project proposed by privately held Calgary firm Bison Low Carbon Ventures Inc.;
  • Open Access Wabamun Carbon Hub sponsored by Enbridge Inc., Capital Power Corp. and Lehigh Cement;
  • Origins Project sponsored by Enhance Energy Inc.;
  • Alberta Carbon Grid sponsored by Pembina Pipeline Corp. and TC Energy Corp.;
  • Atlas Carbon Sequestration Hub sponsored by Shell Canada Ltd., Atco Energy Solutions Ltd. and Suncor Energy Inc.; and
  • Consortium of Wolf Midstream, Whitecap Resources, First Nation Capital Investment Partnership and Heart Lake First Nation. 

More than 20 contenders responded to a government call for expressions of interest in CCUS projects, according to technology and innovation director Justin Wheler of Emissions Reduction Alberta.

The long lineup would add up to a C$75 billion ($60 billion) investment in the planned Alberta GHG cleanup if all the projects were built, Wheler said recently.

“We don’t see CCUS as greenwashing.”

The economics of the method leave room for improvement, he said, as it’s “very expensive.”

Pioneer CCUS projects capable of handling GHGs at a rate of 1 million tons/year have cost about C$1 billion ($800 million) each, said strategy director Mark Demchuk of the International CCUS Knowledge Center in Saskatchewan.

The federal government is expected to keep a support promise by letting CCUS be eligible for environmental investment tax credits in its next budget, scheduled for this month, said Enbridge’s Adam Chalkley, low carbon development director.

Industrial CCUS also requires durable environmental policies to establish a firm carbon price system of emission penalties and reduction credits, creating long-range, reliable value for GHG disposal, said Chalkley.

Experience, technical advancements and rising volumes are expected to lower CCUS costs as it becomes more widely adopted, according to the industry experts.

Canada already stands out as an international CCUS pioneer, hosting 10% of the world’s annual 40 million ton GHG underground disposal while accounting for 1.5% of global emissions, said Chalkley.

Applications for spots on a second approved bidder list for other locations are being accepted from April 25 to May 2.