Wind, hydro and natural gas combined cycle and cogeneration plants are the lowest-cost options for generating electricity in the Canadian province of Alberta once the cost of carbon capture is added to the price of generating power, says a new report from Hatch Energy, a North American-based consulting and engineering company with international operations. "There are various estimates of what capture will cost, but the key point is that carbon capture will approximately double the cost of coal fired generation, which is Alberta's major source of power," says Hatch's Dick Buckland, who conducted the analysis for the Independent Power Producers Society of Alberta. The study estimates the cost of coal generation with carbon capture to be C$100-140/MWh in 2007 dollars and nuclear power, which has been touted as a potential base load option for the province, to be about the same. The study estimates that new wind, large hydro and gas fired generation, assuming a gas price of C$8/GJ, would cost C$80-120/MWh. "Carbon capture is turning out to cost a lot more than people thought, at least according to the estimates being produced now and the current state of carbon capture technologies. We might avoid producing more carbon, not by capturing it from new coal plants, but rather by building more hydro, wind and natural gas plants," says Buckland.
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