Boundary Dam power station

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Boundary Dam power station is an operating power station of at least 553-megawatts (MW) in Estevan, Estevan No. 5, Saskatchewan, Canada with multiple units, some of which are not currently operating.


Table 1: Project-level location details

Plant name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
Boundary Dam power station Estevan, Estevan No. 5, Saskatchewan, Canada 49.095746, -103.030413 (exact)

The map below shows the exact location of the power station.

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Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):

  • Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3, Unit 4, Unit 5, Unit 6: 49.095746, -103.030413

Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology Start year Retired year
Unit 1 retired coal - lignite 62 subcritical 1960 2013
Unit 2 retired coal - lignite 62 subcritical 1960 2014
Unit 3 operating coal - lignite 110 subcritical 2014 2044
Unit 4 mothballed coal - lignite 150 subcritical 1970 2024
Unit 5 operating coal - lignite 150 subcritical 1973 2024
Unit 6 operating coal - lignite 293 subcritical 1978 2028

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner
Unit 1 Saskatchewan Power Corp (SaskPower) [100.0%]
Unit 2 Saskatchewan Power Corp (SaskPower) [100.0%]
Unit 3 Saskatchewan Power Corp (SaskPower) [100.0%]
Unit 4 Saskatchewan Power Corp (SaskPower) [100.0%]
Unit 5 Saskatchewan Power Corp (SaskPower) [100.0%]
Unit 6 Saskatchewan Power Corp (SaskPower) [100.0%]


  • Source of financing: $240 million in grants from the government of Canada;[1] US$940.1 million in equity from SaskPower[2]


The Boundary Dam power station consists of:[3]

  • Units 1-2, 62 MW each, commissioned in 1960. Unit 1 was retired in May 2013,[4] and unit 2 in 2014.[5]
  • Units 3-5, 150 MW each, units 3-4 were commissioned in 1970 and unit 5 in 1973. Unit 3 was shut down and rebuilt with a Carbon Capture and Storage Unit added, with the Rebuilt Unit 3 (110 MW) commissioned in October 2014.[6]
  • Unit 6 - a 293 MW unit commissioned in 1978.[3]


Units 1-2

In May 2013 SaskPower announced the retirement of the 62 MW Unit 1 after over 50 years in operation. In a media release SaskPower stated that the closure followed "federal carbon dioxide (CO2) regulations that were announced in 2012, calling for coal-fired units which have been operating for 50 years or more to meet new emissions standards by July 1, 2015. Retrofitting Unit #1 in time to meet the new regulations was not deemed economically feasible by SaskPower."[3]

SaskPower stated that at the time of the closure the unit generated "approximately 350,000 tonnes" of carbon dioxide emissions.[3]

Unit 2 was retired in 2014.[5]

Units 4-5

In July 2018, SaskPower and the Saskatchewan government said there was “simply not a business case” to retrofit Boundary Dam units 4 and 5 with carbon capture and storage (CCS), as they did unit 3.[7] Without CCS, federal regulations require the units retire by 2019. The provincial government hopes to extend the lifespan of Boundary Dam unit 4 and 5 to 2021 and 2024, respectively, but will need approval from the Canadian government.[8]

On December 29, 2018 the Canadian Government published a draft "equivalency agreement" with the Saskatchewan provincial government which is open for public comment for 60 days. Under the terms of the agreement SaskPower's Boundary Dam Units 4 & 5 would be allowed to operate respectively until December 2021 and 2024.[9] Unit 4 was retired in December 2021.[10]

In April 2022, SaskPower announced that the retired Unit 4 would be placed on standby until at least April 2023. The unit was not brought back online, but rather put on reserve in order to mitigate energy security concerns. In April 2023, the company would re-evaluate the need for the additional capacity.[11]

In an article from April 2023, Pipeline Online reported that while Unit 4 had been on standby, it had been used for 38% of the year from April 2022 through March 2023.[12]

Also in April 2023, SaskPower announced that they planned to extend the lives of both Units 4 and 5. Unit 4 was expected to stay in standby status until the Moose Jaw power station goes into service or until March 31, 2024, while Unit 5 was expected to retire at the end of December 2024 and then be placed on standby for "a couple years" thereafter.[12]

In January 2024, Unit 4 was brought online reportedly to meet higher electricity demand during the winter.[13]

Unit 6

Under the Canada Environmental Protection Act, coal-fired power plants are required to shut down when they reach end-of-life, which generally occurs 50 years after commissioning. Boundary Dam Unit 6, commissioned in 1978, will reach end-of-life in 2028.[14]

Provincial plans at odds with federal goals for coal phase out

In May 2023, the Premier of Saskatchewan said that he expected the province would continue operating some of its coal-fired power plants until the end of their lifespans, beyond the 2030 federal target for phasing out unabated coal power. His reasoning was that the province couldn't "meet the federal rules and keep the lights on at an affordable price." The federal Environment Minister responded saying that non-compliance with the regulations, once they were finalized, would be a violation of Canada's Criminal Code.[15][16]

Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration Project

The Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture & Storage Demonstration Project is a US$1.4 billion project to retrofit the coal-fired unit 3 with carbon capture and an enhanced oil recovery system.[17] The project when complete is expected to result in 1 million tonnes/year reduction in CO2 emissions. It will also reduce the output of Unit 3 from 139 MW to 110 MW.[1] The Canadian federal government paid $240 million towards the project.[1] SaskPower contributed US$940.1 million in equity toward the project.[2]

In July 2018, SaskPower and the Saskatchewan government announced they will not be expanding carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology on any more coal-fired plants in the near future. Dustin Duncan, the minister responsible for SaskPower and the environment, said there is “simply not a business case” to retrofit Boundary Dams 4 and 5.[18]

The plant's CCS system has been plagued with mechanical failures and unscheduled shut-downs. In January 2022, it was reported that the plant's CCS system captured 43 percent fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2021 compared with the year before.[19]

A September 2022 Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis report found that the CCS system operated significantly below the target capture rate of 90%. In fact, the average rate was only about 50%. The target had rarely been met for a single day, and was never met over an extended period of time.[20]

In August 2023, the oil company Whitecap Resources announced a purchase agreement with SaskPower to buy CO2 from Boundary Dam's Unit 3 CCS unit until December 2034. The CO2 would be used for "carbon dioxide-enhanced oil recovery" at Whitecap's Weyburn Project, one of Saskatchewan's oldest oilfields.[21]

According to an April 2024 analysis by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), the CCS attachment on Unit 3 had a long-term CO2 capture rate of 57% as of the end of 2023. SaskPower had originally promised a 90% capture rate.[22][23]

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Sask. going ahead with $1.2B carbon capture project", CBC, April 26, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Preview of Boundary Dam CCS Plant (110MW) | Transaction | IJGlobal". Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Boundary Dam Power Station", SaskPower, accessed August 2018.
  4. SaskPower, "Oldest Boundary Dam unit retired from SaskPower generating fleet after more than 50 years of service", Media Release, May 1, 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "What will saskpower do next time?" International CCS Knowledge, 2014
  6. "SaskPower launches world’s first commercial CCS process", Media Release, October 2, 2014.
  7. "Sask. not moving forward on carbon capture expansion," REGINA LEADER-POST, July 10, 2018
  8. "SaskPower abandons carbon capture at Boundary Dam 4 and 5," CBC, July 9, 2018
  9. Kevin O'Connor and Olivier Daoust, "Saskatchewan reaches deal with Ottawa on coal-burning power plants", CBC, January 12, 2019.
  10. 22 Storylines to Watch in 2022, Discover Estevan, Dec. 31, 2021
  11. Boundary Dam Unit 4 will remain available for SaskPower into 2023, Sask Today, April 8, 2022
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Remember how SaskPower was supposed to retire Boundary Dam Units 4 and 5? About that…," Pipeline Online, April 6, 2023
  13. "SaskPower restarts Boundary Dam Unit 4 as power demand remains high," CTV News Regina, January 16, 2024
  14. Emissions Regulation Applicable to Coal-Fired Power Generation, Saskpower
  15. "Saskatchewan plan to run coal power plants beyond 2030 would be illegal, Guilbeault says," National Post, May 17, 2023
  16. "Saskatchewan to use natural gas, possibly coal beyond 2035 federal target: Moe," The Globe and Mail, May 16, 2023
  17. Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration Project
  18. "Sask. not moving forward on carbon capture expansion," Regina Leader-Post, July 10, 2018
  19. CCS ‘red flag?’ World’s sole coal project hits snag, E&E News, Jan. 10, 2022
  20. Most major carbon capture and storage projects haven't met targets, New Scientist, Sept. 1, 2022
  21. "Whitecap to buy CO2 from SaskPower until 2035, providing market for SaskPower’s BD3," Pipeline Online, August 31, 2023
  22. "Carbon Capture at Boundary Dam 3 still an underperforming failure," Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, April 30, 2024
  23. "Missed emissions goals at Sask. carbon capture project raising questions," CBC News, May 2, 2024

Additional data

To access additional data, including an interactive map of coal-fired power stations, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.