North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp can be counted among the fans of the integrated carbon capture and storage (ICSS) project at the Boundary Dam Power Station.
Heitkamp, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and others gathered at Boundary Dam on August 29, where they learned more about the project, first through a technical briefing, and then through a tour of the carbon capture island, the simulator room and finally the retrofitted Unit 3.
“SaskPower is leading the way,” said Heitkamp, who is a Democrat. “These men and women who have worked so hard on this project are going to demonstrate to the rest of the world that we can continue to use coal in a responsible, sustainable way.”
She wanted to view the ICCS project so that when she touts clean coal and carbon capture on the floor of the U.S. Senate, she has had an up-close look. It's a story that she feels needs to be told in her country and around the world.
Coal has to have a future in the U.S. in order to deliver reliable electricity to American residents, she said. They have coal-fueled power plants in the state
About 70 per cent of what North Dakota generates is exported; most of it is sent into Minnesota.
And while they have turned to some forms of renewable resources, they still need a reliable fuel source for baseload power.
“We believe that right now, the most available, predictable and reliable fuel source is coal,” said Heitkamp.
Andy Serri, who is the general manager and CEO of the Basin Electric Power Cooperative, said that Basin has extended an invitation to SaskPower to come to their facility at Beulah.
“We're so blessed, when you think of the amount of energy, and the different types of energy that we have,” said Serri.
Heitkamp believes that the North Dakota-Saskatchewan region has been a leader in hydraulic fracturing in the oil industry, and that has helped North Dakota become the No. 2 producer of oil in the U.S. The state is heading towards producing a million barrels of oil per day.
The region is also leading the way in carbon dioxide (CO2) injection, and now carbon capture technologies.
“This is world renowned technology that we do right here in our region of the world,” said Heitkamp.
Wall said the carbon capture and storage component of the project is technology that will work.
“For those who say 'Is there such a thing as clean coal?' well, we're going to answer that question right here at Boundary Dam, but we can also give them some encouragement when we consider our history together,” said Wall.
He also lauded Heitkamp as a progressive spokesperson for the energy needs of North America.
“I think there's an understanding that we share that we have to be doing a better job of making the energy production more sustainable,” said Wall. “We have to deal with CO2 issues, we have to deal with other environmental issues related to energy.”
But coal still has to be in play, and hydrocarbons will play a role, he said.
The strong cooperative relationship between Saskatchewan and North Dakota is reflective of the carbon dioxide storage project that is happening in Weyburn, which Wall said is possible due to a pipeline from Beulah, North Dakota.
Wall said he is looking forward to the testing phase for the Boundary Dam project in the fall, and when it will go on-line early next year. He stressed that it is on-time, and on-budget.