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Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emission Mitigation Potential and Abatement Costs of Alternative Technology Options for Oil Sands

  • Author / Creator
    Janzen, Ryan
  • In the last several decades societies have gained an increasing level of awareness and scientific understanding of the impact of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on average global temperatures and the negative results of those temperatures increasing. Many governments, including Canada’s, have formally recognized the need to reduce GHG emission levels, most recently through the Paris Agreement. In Canada, the oil sands industry has accounted for approximately 10% of the nation’s annual GHG emissions making it an important area to address. However, the industry is also important to Canada’s economy, contributing approximately 5% of the gross domestic product in recent years. This research evaluates emerging technology options applicable to the oil sands industry for their GHG abatement potential and marginal costs, presenting the first ever comprehensive analysis of technology options for the industry that uses a consistent evaluation framework. The framework consists of a combination of market penetration modelling and bottom-up energy accounting to determine GHG emissions and marginal costs of technology scenarios compared to a business-as-usual scenario. The market penetration modelling consists of a hybrid cost and diffusion model that assigns technologies annual market shares based on forecasted costs. The energy accounting model uses the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning model (LEAP) to calculate energy demand and supply based on forecasted industry production levels. The framework is both transparent and simple to update with new information, making it an attractive tool for policymakers and industry stakeholders. Four key classes of technologies were identified and evaluated using the framework. These were renewable/low carbon energy; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; advanced bitumen production techniques; and cogeneration of steam and electricity. A total of 84 scenarios were evaluated with 24 unique technology options and 3 carbon policy frameworks for the years 2020-2050. Ten renewable/low carbon technologies were evaluated and were found to offer from 24 million tonnes to 116 million tonnes of cumulative GHG abatement potential at marginal costs of $21/tCO2e and $2/tCO2e, respectively. The top performing low carbon technology from these options was small modular nuclear reactors used to generate steam for in situ production with results as high as 82 million tonnes of GHG abatement potential. Four carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies were evaluated and were found to offer from 92 million tonnes to 253 million tonnes of cumulative GHG abatement potential at marginal costs of $31/tCO2e and -$30/tCO2e, respectively. The top performing CCUS technology was oxyfuel boilers using fuels derived from produced bitumen with results as high as 246 million tonnes of GHG abatement potential. Three advanced bitumen production technologies were evaluated and were found to offer from 247 million tonnes to 267 million tonnes of cumulative GHG abatement potential at marginal costs of -$39/tCO2e and -$47/tCO2e, respectively. The top performing advanced extraction technology option was the solvent-steam hybrid system, with results as high as 85 million tonnes in GHG abatement potential. Cogeneration technology was considered in three subsectors of bitumen production and resulted in a range of 28 million tonnes to 40 million tonnes of GHG abatement potential with marginal costs of -$109/tCO2e and -$266/tCO2e, respectively. The top performing cogeneration scenario was cogeneration applied to the in situ sub sector, with results as high as 37 million tonnes of GHG abatement potential. These results provide an understanding of the technology options currently available to the oil sands industry, the feasible rates they could penetrate the market, and the benefits and costs of each option. This information ultimately provides quantified costs and environmental benefits of the evaluated technologies under one consistent framework to policymakers and industry stakeholders.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2020
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-2rnc-x837
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.