Estevan, Sask., is officially laying out the welcome mat for tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.
On Wednesday, Mayor Roy Ludwig officially sent the invitation to Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, in order to raise the profile of the SaskPower Boundary Dam Carbon Capture and Storage facility (CCS) located near the city.
Last month, Musk announced details of a competition that would put up a total of $100 million US in a global carbon capture competition.
Mayor Ludwig thought the competition would be a good chance to showcase the local project.
“It’s one of the largest clean coal units anywhere,” said Ludwig.
“We’ve got people from all over the world beating a path to our door to learn about the technology.”
The Boundary Dam CCS project was completed in 2014 and was the first carbon capture project in the world to use carbon capture technology.
According to the City of Estevan, the facility is capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to one million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
Ludwig noted that Musk has family living in Saskatchewan and even lived in the province for a brief time as a youth.
“We would like to bring him back to a province that, I think, he has some familiarity with, and have him tour our clean coal plant and show him how many technological advances we have been able to make here,” he said.
Concerned about future
Ludwig admitted he was worried about movement away from coal-fired plants.
Coal has traditionally been a major economic driver for Estevan and talk of phasing it out has been a major local concern for years.
Despite the project’s cost, the mayor believes carbon capture and storage could help prolong the life of the power plant.
“These are well-paying jobs that we have out here,” said Ludwig.
“They pay a lot of income tax. They help the local, the provincial, the federal coffers. And it is clean energy and it does work.”
Musk’s competition will last for four years and complete in 2025. The grand prize winner will take home $50 million US.