Very poor: Repeated breakdowns and the facility being offline for weeks a time made the Boundary Dam coal-CCS plant capture only 43% of its targeted emissions in 2021. Photo:

Poor carbon capture record throws doubt on world’s first coal-CCS plant

The poor performance and multiple breakdowns at the Boundary Dam Power Station near Estevan, Saskatchewan (Canada) have flagged concerns about the reliability of using CCS (carbon capture and storage) at the first of its kind facility for coal plants. Built in 2014, the CCS plant managed to capture 43% fewer tonnes of CO2 in 2021 (over 2020), and the problem was traced back to failures in the CO2 compressor motor which forced the plant to go offline for weeks at a time. While the issue is reportedly resolved, critics have pointed to the perils of investing in a technology that had so far fared as poorly as CCS. Interestingly, one of the critics included US Senator Joe Manchin — who has been in the news lately for perhaps having derailed Joe Biden’s climate plan

Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell signed an MoU with Malaysia’s Petronas to build an offshore CCS facility in the country. 

USA: Biden govt. to quash Trump-era permits for drilling in Alaska 

The Joe Biden government announced that it would rescind Trump-era permits for oil and gas drilling across vast swathes of protected land in Alaska, or at least reduce the area okayed for exploration, including the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A). The permits were hastily awarded by the previous administration, including in protected areas such as the Teshekpuk Lake, which is an important site for local wildlife and migratory birds. Also, these regions were protected by governments going as far back as the Raegan administration in the 1980s, and the new announcement comes as part of the Biden government’s efforts to “ensure balance on America’s public lands and waters to benefit current and future generations”. 

As for oil and gas drilling in Alaska itself, the activity has reportedly dwindled in recent years and most drillers are said to be focusing on the Permian Basin in the very south of the US. 

India: Adani wins contract to supply overseas coal to NTPC 

Adani Power won the contract to supply India’s largest power producer, NTPC, with 1 million tonnes of coal a year, imported from overseas — likely from the Carmicheal mine in Australia. The contract was awarded despite India’s efforts to achieve energy independence and despite the country announcing its plans to phase down coal at COP26. However, India’s coal shortage at numerous plants in late 2021 is reportedly behind the decision, as domestic supply chains faced a bottleneck in a repeat of incidences from 2019 and 2020. Adani Power is also reported to be discussing supplying the same quantity of coal to Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC). 

Danish domestic flights to be fossil fuel-free by 2030, Easyjet targets net-zero flights

The Danish prime minister Mette Fredericksen announced that Denmark would target fossil fuel-free domestic flights starting 2030 as part of the country’s plan to cut emissions by 70% over 1990 (by the end of the decade). However, she acknowledged that the goal would be difficult, since the quantity of biofuels needed for commercial aviation are not adequate at the moment. Yet the national flag carrier (SAS) has partnered with Airbus to gradually switch to aircraft that can run on biofuels. 
Also, in the UK, low-cost carrier Easyjet announced that it was working on developing a hydrogen fuel cell-based propulsion system for its new line of electric aircraft, and would pursue net-zero aviation as part of the UK’s larger goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.