Suncor Energy Inc. plans to move ahead with building two cogeneration units at its base plant located near Fort McMurray, the company announced Monday.

The cogeneration units will replace the company’s three petroleum coke-fired boilers, reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the base plant by approximately 25 per cent.

“The way we look at it is, we get a very good financial return for our shareholders, and we significantly improve our environmental outcomes,” Suncor CEO Mark Little said. “We are doing this by leveraging advanced technologies that are available now that weren’t available in the past.”

Beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the cogeneration units are also expected to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by 45 per cent and nitrogen oxide emissions by 15 per cent.

Little said cogeneration allowed Suncor to generate both industrial steam and electricity by burning natural gas once.

“All of the stream, all of the power that’s generated from this is in excess to our needs,” Little said. “So we’ll export that to the Alberta grid and it’ll help in this transition away from coal-based power.”

Suncor has pledged to reduce its total emission intensity by 30 per cent by 2030, something Little said would be furthered by the introduction of the cogeneration units.

“This is a significant contributor to that commitment that we’ve made. This will achieve about 25 per cent of that goal, so it’s very significant,” he said.

The units will transmit to Alberta’s power grid and are expected to generate approximately eight per cent of the province’s¬†electricity demands.

Little said 600 people will be employed to work on building the new units, which are expected to be in service in the second half of 2023.

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