TransAlta Corp., Canada’s largest publicly traded electricity generator, announced that it and several partners had decided to abandon the nation’s largest carbon capture and sequestration project. Project Pioneer was a joint effort by TransAlta, Capital Power, Enbridge Inc, Canada’s largest oil pipeline company and the federal and provincial governments to demonstrate the commercial-scale viability of CCS technology.

The first step and an essential part of the project was to prove the technical and economic feasibility of CCS through a front end engineering and design (FEED) study before making any major capital commitments. Following the conclusion of the FEED study, the industry partners determined that although the technology works and capital costs are in-line with expectations, the revenue from carbon sales and the price of emissions reductions are insufficient to allow the project to proceed at this time. “The markets for CO2 sales and the price of emission reductions are not sufficient at this time to allow the project to go ahead,” said Dawn Farrell, TransAlta president and CEO. “While we are disappointed that Project Pioneer will not go ahead, we now know the technology works and we still believe there is a future for CCS,” she said.

Pioneer would have been able to trap as much as 1 million tons of CO2 a year from the Keephills No. 3 coal-fired power plant west of Edmonton, and then sell the gas to energy companies to use in enhanced oil recovery applications. Construction was due to start this year.