September 11, 2012
|Potential Means of Geological Sequestration||Major CO2 Sources and Basin Suitability for CO2 Sequestration||Acid Gas Injection in Western Canada|
Currently Alberta is the province with the highest CO2 emissions in Canada, estimated at ~205 Mt/yr in 1999 (up from 150 Mt/yr in 1990). This increase is mainly a result of economic development and population increase. The profile of CO2 emissions in Alberta is different from other provincial profiles and the national profile because Alberta is a major energy producer. Power generation is based on fossil fuels, mainly coal, whereas in the rest of Canada it is based mainly on hydroelectric and nuclear energy (Figure 1). Furthermore, most CO2 emissions in Alberta originate in large, stationary sources, such as power plants, refineries and upgraders, and oil sands, petrochemical and cement plants (Figure 2). This is in contrast with the CO2 emissions profile in other provinces, where most anthropogenic CO2 is produced by transportation, consisting of small, mobile and distributed sources.
Carbon dioxide capture and geological storage is emerging as one of the main strategies in reducing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. During the first half of this century, this strategy will help bridge the transition from the current economy based on fossil fuels to an economy based on hydrogen and renewables in the later part of the century. Due to the nature of CO2 trapping mechanisms, geological storage of CO2 can be achieved only in sedimentary basins. In that respect, Alberta’s situation is different from the rest of Canada because Alberta is underlain almost entirely by a mature and prolific sedimentary basin rich in oil and gas reservoirs, coal and salt beds, and deep saline aquifers. In contrast, the other major CO2 emitting provinces in Canada, Ontario and Quebec, are underlain by the Canadian Precambrian Shield, which is not suitable for CO2 injection and storage. Other sedimentary basins are small, located offshore or in the Arctic (see figure above). In addition, Alberta is situated in a tectonically stable area (see figure below).
|Source: Earthquakes Canada, Natural Resources Canada|
These major differences in the CO2 emissions profile, the location and in the potential for CO2 geological storage suggest a specific strategy for Alberta for reducing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Geological storage of CO2 captured from major CO2 sources is a strategy that provides the highest potential for immediate application and significant reduction in atmospheric CO2 emissions.