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Project Pioneer

Brief description:


Main developer: TransAlta

Country: Canada

Project type: Capture Storage

Scale: Large

This project was cancelled in April 2012

Status: Cancelled

Industry: Coal Power Plant

MW capacity: 450

Capture method: Post-combustion

Capture technology: Ammonia
New or retrofit: Retrofit
Transport of CO2 by: Pipeline

Storage site:

Pembina oilfield

Type of storage: EOR

Volume: 1,000,000 tonnes/CO2



Project Pioneer was a public-private venture, which aimed to retrofit a large-scale CCS plant at the Keephills 3 coal-fired power plant west of Edmonton, Alberta. The project partners were expected to make a final investment decision during 2012, with construction scheduled to start in mid-2012.

However, the partners announced in April 2012 that the project would not go ahead, citing carbon sales and the price of emissions reductions as being insufficient for the project to go ahead. Read press release here.

The power plant is jointly owned by TransAlta and Capital Power, who are joined by Alstom, Enbridge and the state and federal governments on the  project. If completed, it would have been Canada’s first fully-integrated CCS project within the power generating sector.

The venture received a boost in November 2010 when the Global CCS Institute (GCCSI) awarded it $4.95 million to participate in a global sharing of research into and knowledge of CCS – including, not just technologies but the development of regulatory frameworks and studies into economic feasibility.

Pioneer had planned to use supercritical boiler technology designed to capture and store 1 million tonnes of CO2 per annum – equivalent to 20% of Alberta’s annual target – from the 450MW plant. The CO2 storage site had been selected, and the route of the pipeline identified. The partners had been exploring the potential for using captured CO2 in EOR projects, as a commercially viable option.

The project had consulted with regional and national stakeholders a priority and the partners had also stated their commitment to the transfer of knowledge gained from the project. TransAlta became a foundation member of the GCCSI in August 2010.


The estimated capital and operating cost of Project Pioneer was about C$1.3 billion.  As of 2011, the venture was in advanced negotiations for C$779 million in grant support. It had been awarded $343 million from the Canadian government's Clean Energy Fund and $431 million from the Government of Alberta, with an additional $5 million towards FEED work. The remaining costs were to come from industry partners. In November 2010, Pioneer received $4.95 million from the GCCSI.


Detailed engineering design work for the CCS facility was completed in 2010. A final investment decision had been due in 2012 but instead the decision was made to pull the plug on the project in April. Start-up had been planned for 2015.

More information and press releases

Partners abandon Project Pioneer, press release, 26 April 2012

Project Pioneer press release, 28 November 2010 on GCCSI funding

TransAlta press release, 6 August 2010, on GCCSI membership

Capital Power Partners on Post-Combustion CCS Project at Keephills 3October 14, 2009

Contact info

Bob Klager, director of public affairs, 001-403 267 7330 or email


Pioneer storage

The Wabamun Area Sequestration Project (WASP) confirmed that Project Pioneer was well located to take advantage of large-scale geological formations for sequestration. It is also about 70 kilometres from the large Pembina oilfield, considered ideal for EOR opportunities.

The captured CO2 will be transported via two pipelines, each around 20 to 40 kilometres in length. One pipeline will lead to an oilfield injection site for enhanced oil recovery, and the second to a permanent storage site – where most of the captured gas will be sequestered in deep, saline aquifers and mature oil and gas reservoirs. There is the potential to store 1 gigatonne of CO2, or 1000 years’ worth of captured gas based on Project Pioneer’s initial annual output.

Carbon Capture Journal article on WASP, 12 March 2010




Contact info

Main developer: TransAlta

Companies involved