Another summer has come and gone, and with it another productive season for the pioneering Carbon Capture and Storage project located at the Boundary Dam Power Station.
The main event of those months was when the facility came offline in June to have some work done. That took longer than planned due to some unexpected problems popping up.
"The idea behind this outage was, essentially, to add some redundant equipment and change some of the valving thats a safety related issue," said Howard Mathews, Saskpower's Vice President of Power Production.
"One of the challenges that we've had in the facility is some of the equipment not having backups in place. When we have to come offline to do cleaning, all too often we'd end up having to shut down the plant just to do cleaning on one specific piece of equipment."
He explained that the goal is to be able to keep all the other parts running while they switch one to backup, clean it, then restore it back on and move to the next piece. This way the plant can keep operating while undergoing the work.
"We expect to see good results out of that going forward."
That period of time also allowed them to get in and perform a thorough inspection on parts that hadn't been looked at since October of 2015, the last time the plant came offline for that long.
"It's not unusual in the power plant world, when you go in to these large pieces of equipment that run for months and months, 24/7, that you find what we call 'discovery work'. It's something that wasn't expected."
"We did find some of that, and credit goes to the folks involved. They worked real hard to address some of those issues, and get some of that equipment repaired that we otherwise wouldn't have known about," Mathews related.
With the redundant systems now installed, they expect to see longer periods between outages, which translates into increased production. They have come a long way in learning how to operate the equipment and sorting out the kinks that are bound to appear in a first of it's kind project.
He noted that their daily production rates have steadied out, and they are tuning things for maximum performance.
"Keeping in mind, we don't always have to go flat out on this equipment. Just like your car...you don't always drive it with the gas pedal right to the floor. What we've done is run at a nice, steady pace, meeting our contract requirements to our off-taker, continuing to put the CO2 in our underground aquistore well, and learning more every day on how to operate the facility better."
Next on the horizon is some performance testing that is due for the equipment. That is expected to take place sometime in 2018.
Mathews also pointed out that the CCS project continues to receive global attention.
"For instance, in the last while we've had visitors from Washington D.C., people that are involved in important policy setting in the U.S. government. They came to the site to spend some time learning about Saskpower and our experiences with CCS, and have a very good tour of the facility. We've also just recently had a symposium here in Saskatchewan, where we had visitors from around the world. We had quite a number, almost two busloads, of people that had gone down to the facility to tour it."
He added that everyone was appreciative of the hospitality that the Energy City extended to the visitors.
"Folks go away with a smile, and learn quite a bit of what Saskatchewan, and Estevan in particular, has to offer."