The Government of Alberta unveiled its 2010 Budget on Tuesday. The budget continues to provide funding for carbon capture and storage ("CCS") projects, although at a slower pace than previously planned.
In last year's budget, the government planned to spend the first $800 million of its $2 billion of CCS funding by the end of the 2011-2012 fiscal year. That figure has been scaled back to $300 million in the 2010 Budget ($500 million over the next 3 years), with $100 million allocated for the coming fiscal year.
The Edmonton Journal reports that Alberta Minister of Energy Ron Liepert emphasized that the government is still committed to providing the full $2 billion in funding. However, he explained that the spending timeline had been adjusted because the private sector has not been ready to push ahead with the four projects to be funded by the government.
Recall that Alberta announced in 2009 that four projects would received CCS funding. The winning private sector proponents propose to:
- retro-fit CCS onto a coal-fired generating plant under construction west of Edmonton;
- install CCS technology on an oil sands upgrader;
- turn deep coal deposits into clean burning synfuel; and
- transport carbon dioxide from a fertilizer plant and proposed upgrader east of Edmonton to oil fields in east-central Alberta to enhance recoveries.
According to 2010 Budget documents, the projects will remove more than five million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year once fully operational in 2015. The 2010 Budget notes that this is equivalent to taking approximately one million vehicles off the road.
However, Alberta's greenhouse gas emissions grew by more than 5 million tonnes in the period from 2004 to 2007 (according to the Alberta Environment Report on 2007 Greenhouse Gas Emissions). If CCS is to make a significant and timely contribution to the mitigation of emissions in Alberta, both the private sector and the government should remain committed to moving forward with the projects as quickly as possible.