If there is one word that defined the carbon capture and storage sector in 2022, it would have to be ‘momentum’ – as interest in CCS heated up around the globe.  Throughout the year, we continued to see a groundswell of activity in CCS, with dozens of major projects launching across heavy emitting industries and significant new policies developed to support CCS as a cornerstone of achieving many nations’ ambitious climate plans.

As we saw at the burgeoning number of industry meetings, conferences and networking events dedicated to discussing realistic pathways for reaching net zero emissions, there has been a notable shift from talking about the potential of CCS to focusing on the concrete steps required to bring projects to life. This enthusiasm for action reinforces the value the Knowledge Centre provides to companies planning to undertake significant investment in CCS development. Our team has never been more occupied sharing our expertise with the world’s first fully integrated, commercial-scale CCS facility on a coal-fired power plant. Virtually every week through the summer saw us hosting tours of the Boundary Dam Unit 3 (BD3) CCS facility and the Aquistore storage project with our colleagues from SaskPower and the Petroleum Technology Research Centre for delegations from the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Japan, Southeast Asia, and from companies and organizations across Canada.

Our foundational experience with BD3, followed by pioneering feasibility studies we completed for SaskPower’s Shand Power Station and for what is expected to be the world’s first full-scale CCS facility on a cement plant at Lehigh Hanson’s Edmonton plant, have placed our technical and strategic advisory services in high demand — and the Knowledge Centre has had to evolve quickly to keep pace with the enormous opportunities on the horizon. My top priority after joining the organization as CEO in May was to complete the comprehensive review of the Knowledge Centre’s strategy and business plans that was underway to ensure we remain a relevant and sustainable resource in the years ahead. With the support of external management consultants, our executive team developed a bold vision that received strong support from our board of directors.

Our goal is to ensure the Knowledge Centre is the most sought-after curator of information and lessons learned from CCS projects, to advance the deployment of CCS around the world. To support this, we will broaden our revenue base by expanding the fee-for-service work we offer to clients. Our focus is to act as independent, trusted advisors on large-scale CCS projects – an important role that helps project owners reduce risk, lower costs and improve the performance of CCS facilities. We do this by helping our clients successfully navigate the myriad of technical, economic, policy and stakeholder issues that accompany the development of major CCS projects and are uncharted territory for many firms in heavy emitting industries including steel, cement, mining, oil and gas, power generation, petrochemicals and hydrogen production.

Our refreshed strategy has positioned us well for the exciting opportunities that emerged in the second half of the year. This included forging a partnership with GLJ, a pre-eminent reservoir engineering and geosciences consulting firm, that will see us work jointly to help clients plan and successfully deliver CCS projects. That was followed in September with a new partnership with Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) that will see the Knowledge Centre provide the 11 successful applicants of the ERA’s Carbon Capture Kickstart program with up to 200 hours of support on their pre-construction design and engineering studies for CCS/CCUS projects across industrial sectors in Alberta. And as the year drew to a close, we formed new partnerships with a cement heavy emitter and in the emerging bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) space – taking carbon-neutral biomass and storing the emissions from combustion underground. The organization is driving further opportunities that we plan to make successful in 2023.

Meanwhile, we continue be a leading voice on the importance of CCS for meeting the Paris Agreement, and our teams were busy throughout the last quarter of 2022 sharing the latest information on CCS and representing the Knowledge Centre at key international events that have thankfully resumed following years of delay and cancellations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. From the inaugural Carbon Capture Canada convention in Edmonton, to ADIPEC in Dubai and gatherings in Norway, London, Pittsburgh, New York and Washington D.C., we were active in the discussions between industry, governments, academia and other stakeholders seeking the most effective and collaborative path forward for the massive expansion of CCS that must happen on an ever-tighter timeframe in order to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change. Several members of our engineering team also attended the International Energy Agency’s biennial Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies conference in Lyon, France in October where there was keen interest in the technical presentations they led on the BD3 CCS facility and the Lehigh CCS feasibility study. And in November we were pleased to welcome back our Vice-President of Policy, Regulatory and Stakeholder Relations Beth (Hardy) Valiaho, who returned from a parental leave just in time to be part of the CCS delegation at the United Nations’ annual climate change conference (COP27) in Egypt.   

In addition to attending these meetings, we have been successful in positioning the Knowledge Centre as an independent, authoritative source of information on all aspects of CCS development. We provided positive feedback to the U.S. government for its landmark incentives supporting CCS contained in the Inflation Reduction Act. In Canada, we have been focused on highlighting the need for more robust federal policy to ensure Canada remains competitive in the CCS space. This included the publication of opinion editorials in Postmedia papers across Canada, as well as my offering comments on behalf of the Knowledge Centre for two stories in the Globe and Mail that reinforced the need for a guaranteed price on carbon to build a business environment where companies could make the decisions to invest billions of dollars in large-scale carbon capture projects.

Almost every week, we have new companies and organizations approaching us looking for advice and assistance on bringing their CCS projects to life. In addition to the projects mentioned above, the next year will see us supporting clients with CCS facilities being planned across Canada, as well as the United States and the United Kingdom. We will also continue to be involved in broader strategic work with organizations such as the World Bank to help craft roadmaps for CCS as part of the climate plans for developing countries.

This boom in activity is why 2022 culminated with our expansion to Calgary. In addition to myself, our Calgary-based team has quickly grown to include our Vice-President of Business Development & Corporate Affairs James Fann, Director of Communications and Marketing Grady Semmens, and four additional members of our CCS Project Delivery and Technical Services team who joined us over the last two months. The Knowledge Centre now has a home base in downtown Calgary, with office space leased at the Energy Transition Centre, where we have partnered with Avatar Innovations to put our expertise to work supporting CCS-related projects as part of Avatar’s Ignite technology incubator program. We continue to seek additional qualified individuals to join our team in Regina and Calgary to help us deliver top-quality strategic and technical advisory services for our growing list of clients.

I would like to thank the staff, board members and supporters of the Knowledge Centre for their support during my first six months at the helm of this unique and dynamic organization. I am truly excited about the opportunities that are ahead as we continue to evolve as one of the world’s leading centres for knowledge and expertise on CCS. It is not an easy road and there is much more work to be done, but it is an important and interesting one. I appreciate the hard work and passion everyone brings to achieving our vision every day, and I look forward to working with all of you throughout 2023.

To close, ‘opportunity’ is the one word that resonates with me most as we end 2022 and position ourselves for what lies ahead. I think of a quote that I first placed on my cubicle wall more than 20 years ago, where T.S. Eliot said: Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

Purposeful words indeed.