Integrating our GHG performance goal
This ambitious goal, based on a 2014 baseline year, stretches us beyond our current technology and know-how, and ultimately aims to alter the trajectory of our absolute emissions, with the intent to make us a producer of low-carbon intensity crude and refined products. While our goal will be measured by the reduction of our corporate emissions intensity by 30%, the goal is also intended to embed low-carbon thinking into the day-to-day activities and decisions of our employees.
The goal is driving operational, energy and fuel efficiency improvements, accelerating the development and implementation of new technologies and encouraging the evaluation of potential low-carbon business opportunities. Operational metrics are part of the corporate scorecard and are critical to meeting the goal. The initiatives required to meet the goal cascade into annual performance targets.
We are targeting emissions reductions in four key areas.
Energy efficiency and continuous improvement of our base assets
We continue to drive energy efficiency at all of our facilities.
- We are implementing new digital technologies such as operation performance management (OPM) dashboards at Firebag to measure, review and make real-time decisions that improve reliability, reduce energy intensity, and lower cost and GHG emissions.
- The design of our new facilities leverages operational experience to significantly lower energy intensity. For example, in addition to using an extraction technology that removes heavy hydrocarbon molecules at the source, the Fort Hills design is highly heat integrated through the use of high efficiency cogeneration, recovery of warm process water, and closed loop cooling for enhanced process heat capture.
Investing in low-carbon power
Our GHG goal is also driving us to seek and evaluate new business opportunities in our value chain and within the evolving energy system.
- All of our oil sands facilities use cogeneration, and we are a net exporter of power to Alberta’s electricity grid. By producing both industrial steam and electricity through a natural gas-fuelled process, cogeneration is the most energy-efficient form of hydrocarbon-based power generation. The GHG intensity of the power produced from Suncor’s cogeneration units is approximately 75% below that of an average coal-fired power plant and 30% below a combined-cycle natural gas facility. The excess power from our cogeneration facilities combined with our wind energy, significantly contribute to reducing the overall GHG intensity of Alberta’s electricity grid.
- We are progressing a project to replace the GHG intensive coke-fired boilers with cogeneration or natural gas boilers at our Oil Sands base plant. In addition to providing the facility with steam and hot water needed for our operations, the cogeneration option could export up to 800 MW of low GHG intensity electricity to the provincial grid in Alberta1.
- In addition to our current partnerships in 111 MW of wind power, we continue to evaluate renewable energy investments that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits. We also are continuing to explore the opportunity to develop our first utility-scale solar photovoltaic facility in Alberta.
Investing in low-carbon fuels
We continue to look for low-carbon opportunities in our operations and evaluate new business opportunities in renewable fuels.
- We are considering fuel switching from high to low carbon sources in our processes such as the proposed coke-fired boiler replacement project at base plant which would replace coke combustion with natural gas.
- We continue to invest in renewable fuels including our 2019 investment in Enerkem Inc. which manufactures biofuels and renewable chemical products from household garbage that would otherwise be destined to a landfill.
We are evaluating optimization work at our St. Clair ethanol plant to increase the quality of our products to develop lower carbon intensity ethanol.
Developing and deploying new technologies
Our goal will require us to go beyond today’s capabilities, and we are aggressively working on new technologies that lower the costs and carbon emissions of our processes and products.
- We are participating in the Government of Alberta’s research and analysis of a potential bitumen partial upgrading program to improve the GHG profile of oil sands crudes.
- We are amplifying our climate actions through:
- technology collaboration efforts through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)
- focused investments in clean technology funds such as Evok Innovations
- advancing the work of the Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN), an industry-led group created to leverage the oil and gas industry’s strengths in large-scale heavy industrial collaboration with the potential to export to other industries globally
- Advancing new in situ extraction technologies that incorporate injected hydrocarbon solvents such as propane or butane that are expected to reduce emissions from in situ facilities.
- Directly investing in technology companies like Enerkem Inc. and Lanzatech.
In some instances, the development and deployment of these technologies will take us beyond 2030 and we are looking at longer term technology-aspirational goals to motivate decision-making. More details about some of the technologies and innovations we are advancing can be found in the low-carbon innovation section.
Suncor’s GHG goal is intended to improve decision-making and our methodology is specifically designed to encourage business choices that will reduce emissions in the global energy system. To support this change, we have established principles that guide the implementation of the goal. The goal should:
- Drive real emissions reductions in the energy system both within and external to Suncor’s operations.
- Encourage new, lower intensity production as part of our evaluation of new projects. Embedding the GHG goal and carbon price assumptions within our asset development execution model enables a rigorous process to promote the selection of efficient assets and technology for any new oil sands, offshore, downstream and renewable projects.
- Lead to additional emissions reductions and will not be met by changing our product sales mix or through acquisition and divestment. For example, reducing the sales volume of premium synthetic crude could reduce Suncor’s direct emissions but would simply shift emissions downstream and not result in emissions reduction overall. Similarly, buying low carbon- or selling high carbon-intensity assets simply transfers ownership and does not reduce global atmospheric emissions. If we change our product mix or portfolio of assets, we will adjust our goal baseline.
To allow us to measure progress against our goal, we have established the following:
Suncor tracks the GHG intensity of our production within the facilities we operate
- The focus of our goal is on the assets we control and operate. As such, we establish the baseline GHG emissions intensity of our operated assets by calculating the direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 2) emissions of our production. This allows us to identify opportunities for our controlled assets to reduce emissions directly in our operations and also for our products to reduce emissions indirectly within the energy system. We continue to promote safe and efficient production in our non-operated assets.
Suncor actions and/or investments that reduce emissions outside of operational fence lines will be captured as indirect credits
- Indirect emissions are not directly emitted by our operations but are required to produce our products and include the electricity, hydrogen, or steam that we import from third-party suppliers. In addition to this, our low-carbon products can help reduce indirect emissions within the energy system. For example, the cogeneration power we generate for Alberta’s electricity grid displaces high-carbon sources of power.
The goal will adjust to account for changes in asset mix
- We have developed a methodology for asset acquisitions or divestitures that does not benefit or hinder our ability to meet our goal.
1 This project has not been sanctioned and is subject to climate policy clarity.