Suncor adding 700 MW of ‘low-carbon electricity’ to Alberta power grid with oil sands co-generation

Oil Sands open pit mining. Low-carbon electricity cogeneration Photo: Suncor

Suncor co-generation project will generate enough electricity to meet about 7% of current Alberta power consumption

Suncor took the first steps in the regulatory process to replace coke-fired boilers with two co-generation units at its Oil Sands Base Plant as a part of its plan to “remain globally cost and carbon competitive,” according to a press release.

In addition to providing the facility with steam needed for its operations, the co-generation units are expected to export approximately 700 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the provincial grid, equivalent to roughly seven per cent of Alberta’s current electricity demand.

“We believe that bold, ambitious action is required by all of us to effectively tackle the climate change challenge.  Co-generation provides an emissions and cost reduction opportunity for Suncor’s operations and contributes low-carbon power for the province of Alberta,” said Steve Williams, Suncor president and CEO.

The project, which has been submitted to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), is expected to offer base load reliability to Alberta’s electricity grid as the province transitions to more intermittent renewable energy sources, while contributing lower carbon power supply to Alberta, the company said.


The 700 MW of power from the co-generation units are anticipated to come online as the provincial supply of electricity is expected to decrease due to the phase out of coal-fired electricity.

Industrial co-generation’s ability to supply significant volumes of reliable base load electricity at a lower carbon intensity than combined cycle natural gas technology supports Alberta’s transition towards more sustainable energy sources.

Suncor currently has co-generation units installed at its Oil Sands Base Plant, Firebag, MacKay River and Fort Hills facilities, and exports low-carbon excess electricity generated from these units to the provincial grid.

Suncor is continuing to evaluate the project with the final sanction decision expected to be made by the fourth quarter of 2018.

Should the project proceed as planned, construction is targeted to begin in 2019, with commissioning of the cogeneration units expected to commence by 2022.

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