Canada Plans Carbon-Neutral Petrochemical Plant


Northern Petrochemical Corporation and the Municipal District of Greenview in Canada have recently announced they have signed a land sale agreement for construction of a $2.5 billion carbon-neutral production facility.

The 295-acre site in Grande Prairie, Alberta, is located within the Greenview Industrial Gateway. NPC said they plan to produce natural gas to blue methanol and blue ammonia at the facility based on financing and approvals.

“The announcement of this huge new job-creating project adds even more momentum to Alberta’s exciting economic recovery,” said Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta. “Northern Petrochemical’s decision to invest $2.5 billion in ammonia and methanol production shows that Alberta’s natural gas vision and our bold petrochemical strategy is working to create jobs while diversifying our economy, and ensuring a future for our resource industries.”

According to the City of Alberta, the facility would be the first of its kind in Canada, with plans to use carbon capture and storage to produce exceptionally low-carbon products that can be used in the energy, agriculture and chemical industries.

“There are exciting times ahead,” said NPCC CEO Geoff Bury. “With the low cost of this natural gas feedstock, the opportunities for carbon sequestration, the proximity of process water, rail access; The Greenview Industrial Gateway has a lot to offer. The GIG has everything needed to compete on the world stage.”

The Greenview Industrial Gateway is a planned industrial sector that provides services to companies such as carbon capture, utilization and story, transportation by rail and access to significant natural gas feedstocks.

“Processing natural gas to carbon-neutral value-added products at the source is the right path to lower overall emissions in the future. This project might be based on industry, but with the overall attention to creating an eco-industrial development, it is one that Greenview can be proud of,” said Tyler Olsen, Reeve for the Municipal District of Greenview.

Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2023. According to Alberta’s press release, the facility is expected to provide more than 4,000 jobs during the construction phase and 400 permanent jobs once it opens.

Alberta’s Recovery Plan

The investment from NPC and the production plant was made possible through Alberta’s Recovery Plan to create jobs, build infrastructure and diversify the economy. The plan was developed due to the COVID-19 economic crisis, global recession and world oil price collapse.

The plan outlines more than $10 billion in spending for infrastructure projects and creating more than 32,000 jobs:

  • Investing $1.5 billion in the Keystone XL pipeline to support economic recovery;
  • Issuing $1 billion in grants to clean up thousands of oil and gas sites;
  • Accelerating capital maintenance and renewal projects to create 5,000+ jobs immediately;
  • Investing $476 million in technology and innovation to reduce emissions and position Alberta as a global sustainable energy leader;
  • Increasing municipal infrastructure funding by 30% this fiscal year to support shovel-ready projects;
  • Funding 69 municipal road and bridge improvement projects through STIP;
  • Funding 55 water and wastewater projects;
  • Providing funding for the Ermineskin Cree Nation to Ponoka regional water pipeline tie-in project;
  • Making communities more flood and drought resistant, funding 16 projects;
  • Making the environmental regulatory system more effective by reducing red tape and speeding up approvals;
  • Leveraging federal funding to participate as full partners in cost-shared infrastructure projects; and
  • Planning to use the Canada Infrastructure Bank to help rebuild Alberta and diversify our economy.

A series of large-scale projects were scheduled to be launched in the summer at a cost of at least $600 million. The investment through the Recovery Plan is reportedly the “largest-ever investment in infrastructure” in Alberta.

Also a part of the Recovery Plan, the Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program (APIP) provides grants to companies such as NPC to encourage investment in petrochemical facilities. According to the program guide, key features include:

  • A five- or 10-year program period, depending on the scope of the project, during which eligible projects must be built and operational to receive funding;
  • An open and transparent approach, whereby every project submitted that meets the program’s criteria will receive funding once built and operational;
  • Grants worth 12% of a project’s eligible capital costs will be issued to companies after projects are operational. Grants allow companies to account for the full value of the incentive provided when calculating their project’s return on investment; and
  • Better alignment with typical investment cycles by making funding available throughout the program’s duration.

The Alberta Industrial Heartland Association reportedly estimates that there is an opportunity to grow the sector by more than $30 billion by 2030.

Moving Towards Carbon Neutrality

Much like Canada, other countries have recently invested and outlined plans for lowering carbon emissions from buildings.

In October, the London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI) released a Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide to aid in retrofitting homes throughout the United Kingdom to meet national Net Zero targets.

According to reports, the Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide was created with the help of more than 100 architects, engineers and building experts regarding best practices in home retrofitting and how existing homes can meet the U.K.’s Net Zero targets.

In looking at practical ways that homes could successfully meet approaching climate change targets, LETI identified specific energy uses and categorized existing homes into four different types (constrained or unconstrained): mid-terrace, semi-detached, detached and apartments.

The guide also sets out six key principles for retrofit best practices. Of them, the guide specifies creating a “whole house Retrofit Plan,” which must follow the LETI Retrofit Process:

  • Set out key building information, constraints, risks and opportunities;
  • Set out the key works proposed along with related strategies and details;
  • Set out the sequence of work;
  • Be appropriate in its level of detail and intervention for the project;
  • Include a plan for monitoring and reporting energy consumption; and
  • Stay with the building.

In August, Norway launched work on what it’s calling “Project Longship”—a 1.7 billion euro ($2.01 billion) project that plans to bury up to 1.25 billion tons of captured carbon dioxide under the North Sea.

The initiative calls for the injection of CO2 captured from factory emissions in depleted oil and gas fields.

Compelled by the Paris Agreement to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 to give the world a chance of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels, Norway has devised a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project that will bury collected CO2 reserves below the North Sea.

The project is not only expected to help Norway reach its carbon-neutral goals but will also create thousands of new jobs in the process.

For the project, developer and operator of CO2 transport and storage Northern Lights will capture the CO2, which will then be shipped in liquid form to the North Sea and pumped into the bedrock up to three kilometers (almost 2 miles) below the seabed.

In addition to converting CO2 into liquid for storage, the project also intends to store carbon captured directly from the atmosphere. Earlier this year, Northern Lights signed a letter of intent with Swiss direct air capture company Climeworks, that has developed machines to suck carbon from the atmosphere and could one day provide CO2 for storage as part of the project.

Phase one of the project is expected to be completed by 2024 and plans to have a capacity of 1.5 million tons per year.

And in June, Australian clean technology company Mineral Carbonation International announced its intentions to capture industrial carbon emissions to transform into useful materials.

According to Hamblin Wang, the company is looking for anything that can have carbonates so that new products can be made using its synthetic carbonates. Specifically, the MCi is looking to produce construction materials in larger volumes, particularly for things such as new types of cement and drywall products to replace carbon-emitting Portland cement and gypsum-based materials.

The carbonization and transformation of these types of industrial-based waste would work by submitting the materials to a chemical process MCi has developed that mimic natural weathering—also known as mineral carbonization—to remove carbon from factory emissions and sequester it in solid minerals.

As the CO2 is dissolved into rainwater, a weak carbonic acid is formed which slowly weathers into rock, having had its carbon combine with elements released from the rock by the weathering process to form new carbonate materials.

While in nature, this process can take thousands or even millions of years, MCi has compressed the process into just hours. However, instead of a rock result, MCi uses industrial waste, such as steel slag, mine tailings and bottom ash from incinerators, among others. To form the raw materials, CO2 is bubbled through the waste, approximating the way water-borne carbon interacts with rock in the natural weathering process.

The exothermic process results is a new mineral, which can vary from magnesium carbonate, calcium carbonate, silica, and more.

Although the entire process is aiming to utilize renewable energy, the company reports that crushing the industrial waste is the most energy intensive. In the future, MCi plans to switch entirely to renewables if they are to offer a viable contribution to global decarbonization efforts.

Currently, MCi is reported to receive its emissions from an ammonium nitrate factory, which captures its emissions every day, and other industries that have scrubbers fitted to their chimneys for capture. Carbon scrubbing, also known as post-combustion capture, is a long-touted technology that could theoretically remove greenhouse gases from factory flues, preventing them from reaching the atmosphere.


Tagged categories: Carbon footprint; Construction; Economy; Emissions; Government; Green building; Green Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Petrochemical Plants; Program/Project Management

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