In 2016, we announced a greenhouse gas (GHG) goal that we will work to harness technology and innovation to set us on a transformational pathway to a low-carbon energy system. We will measure our progress by reducing the total emissions intensity of the production of our oil and petroleum products by 30% by 2030.
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.
We know this will not be achieved without integrating carbon risk into all aspects of our business; from the extraction and production of oil to refining and distributing fuels.
The goal is expected to drive operational, energy and fuel efficiency improvements, accelerate the development and implementation of new technology, apply these improvements to all potential business prospects as well as encourage the evaluation of potential low-carbon business opportunities.
Operational metrics critical to meeting the goal are part of the corporate scorecard, and the initiatives required to meet the goal cascade into annual performance goals.
We continue to examine data and processes from every part of our business and identify high-opportunity areas. This work is complex and requires long-term change to how we run our business to reduce GHG emissions through operational improvements, technology innovation and new investments. We are focusing our GHG intensity reductions in the following key areas.
Energy efficiency and continuous improvement of our base assets
We continue to drive energy efficiency at all our facilities. We are also focused on reducing GHG intensity by switching to lower carbon fuels. Our ongoing work includes:
- Sustainment of the Energy Management System (EMS) at our refineries and oil sands facilities to continue to identify and implement cost-effective energy efficiency enhancements and potential energy savings in the range of 3% to 5%.
- Building on our management structure to advance operational excellence by sharing knowledge and best practices across our organization, including embedding incentives for long-term GHG emissions reductions within our performance management system.
Strategic technology implementation to reduce extraction and upgrading emissions
Our goal will require us to go beyond today’s capabilities, so we are aggressively working on new technology development aimed at improving the cost and carbon competitiveness of our processes and products. Details about some of the technologies and innovations we are advancing can be found in the low-carbon innovation section.
Greening the electricity grid through investments in low-carbon power such as cogeneration and renewables
Our GHG goal is also driving us to seek and evaluate new business opportunities in the evolving future energy system.
All of our oil sands facilities use cogeneration, and we are a net exporter of power to Alberta’s electricity grid. Suncor currently has cogeneration units installed at Oil Sands Base plant, Firebag, MacKay River and Fort Hills, and exports low-carbon electricity to the Alberta provincial grid.
By producing both industrial steam and electricity through a natural gas-fuelled process, cogeneration is the most carbon-efficient form of base load power generation. The excess power from our cogeneration facility combined with our wind energy, have reduced the overall GHG intensity of Alberta’s grid.
In 2017, we took the first steps in the regulatory process for a proposed project to replace coke-fired boilers with cogeneration units at Oil Sands Base plant. In addition to providing the facility with steam needed for our operations, the cogeneration units could export up to approximately 800 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the provincial grid in Alberta.
Cogeneration provides an emissions- and cost-reduction opportunity for Suncor’s operations and contributes low-carbon power for Alberta. Should the project proceed as planned, construction is targeted to begin in 2019, with commissioning of the cogeneration units expected to commence by 2022. The 800 MW of power from these cogeneration units are anticipated to come online at a time when the phase-out of coal-fired electricity is expected to decrease overall supply.
Industrial cogeneration's ability to supply significant volumes of reliable baseload electricity at a lower carbon intensity than combined cycle natural gas technology supports Alberta's transition towards low-carbon energy sources.
Suncor continues to evaluate investment opportunities for renewables in the areas where we operate including Canada and the US. Our evaluation of potential investments assesses the economic, environmental and social benefits, enabling us to consider future development of renewable energy projects.
Other focused efforts in support of our GHG goal over the last year included:
- Hosting a GHG goal workshop with external stakeholders to solicit feedback on Suncor’s goal and methodology
- Participating in the Government of Alberta’s research and analysis of a potential partial upgrading bitumen program that would improve the GHG profile of oil sands crudes
- Amplifying our climate actions through:
- technology collaboration efforts through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)
- focused technology investments in clean technology funds such as Evok Innovations
- leading and participating in 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