The carbon capture structure at the Boundary Dam Power Station is virtually finished, according to SaskPower president Robert Watson, and the rebuild of Unit 3 at Boundary Dam is nearing completion.
Testing and verification work is currently happening on the capture island, Watson said, and SaskPower is starting to take over the facility.
"There's a big process now that will take months and months, where we physically test the building itself, and all aspects of it, and that takes, systematically a long time to do," said Watson. "And then we start commissioning it and testing, and that's going to take a while to do."
The capture facility is ahead of schedule, he said. SaskPower wanted to enter the testing and commissioning phase by April 1, 2014.
The Crown corporation is optimistic that the capture island will be into production before the end of May.
Welding of the steam piping is currently happening on Unit , Watson said. The turbine is in place, and work is progressing quite well.
"We'll start steam testing late this month or early next month, with plan to bring it spinning some time in late January or early February," said Watson.
The goal is to have Unit 3 generating power in March.
SaskPower announced earlier this year that the overall project would be about $115 million over budget, thanks to overages on the Unit 3 rebuild.
"It's like taking an old car engine apart; you really don't know what you're going to find until you take it apart, and there were a couple of things that surprised us," said Watson. "The old turbine bed was no good, the boiler needed rebuilding and the structure around it all needed rebuilding."
The problems were not connected with the construction of the capture facility, he said.
Despite the over-budget expenditures, Watson is pleased with the project. There were some concerns about the capture facility, since it was the first in the world, but it was finished ahead of schedule and on budget. The Unit 3 rebuild created more problems than expected, but those issues couldn't have been forecasted.
There are 60 electricians and 65 welders and pipe-fitters currently on the site, Watson said, but those are specialists. Most of the contractors who were at the site have gone home.
The carbon dioxide pipe from the capture island to SaskPower's deep storage well adjacent to Boundary Dam is nearly finished, Watson said. SaskPower took control of the deep storage well from the Petroleum Technology Research Centre earlier this year.
Work has also started on the carbon capture test facility at the Shand Power Station. The pilings are in, and the structure is starting to be constructed.
"We did delay the start of it a little bit because we wanted to make sure that the (Boundary Dam) capture facility was going properly," said Watson.
The test facility is expected to be finished by the end of 2014.
Hitachi Canada will exclusively be at the test facility during its first two years of operations, as part of Hitachi's agreement with SaskPower to supply the technology. SaskPower has had serious negotiations with several other parties to use the facility once it is operational, Watson said, and they hope to eventually have two or three users in the test facility at a time.
Interest is growing for both the Boundary Dam and Shand projects, Watson said, as they have received inquiries from countries around the world who are monitoring how carbon capture and storage will impact the future of coal-fired power generation.