CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - TransAlta Corp will spend C$12 million ($11.9 million) this year planning a carbon capture project at one of its Alberta coal-fired power plants, the latest in a series of such initiatives by Alberta firms, it said on Thursday.
TransAlta said it signed a deal with France's Alstom for the initial stage of a capture and storage facility at a plant west of Edmonton, using a Alstom's chilled ammonia process, seen as a low-cost solution.
Alstom is also developing capture and storage projects with such energy companies as American Electric Power Co Inc, StatoilHydro and E.ON in the United States and Europe.
Alberta power generators and oil sands developers view carbon capture and storage as a promising solution in their quest to cut greenhouse gas emissions with minimal impact on the Canadian province's booming economy.
Alberta's government has said it is counting on the technology, which is still in its infancy, to account for 70 percent of a targeted 200 million megatonne cut in emissions by 2050.
After the initial engineering and regulatory work for its project, TransAlta will look for more partner and government funding for later stages with the aim of a 2012 startup, said the company, which runs several coal-fired plants in Canada and the United States.
"Over the long term, we believe CCS can be a source of competitive advantage for TransAlta and for Canada," Chief Executive Steve Snyder said in a statement. "These initial projects, however, are not commercially viable at this point, and will not proceed without industry and government partnerships."
Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; editing by Rob Wilson