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Provincial Energy Minister Sonya Savage said the government was trying to ensure CCS is deployed 'responsibly and strategically' over the long term.AMBER BRACKEN/The Canadian Press

Alberta on Thursday selected six proposals to move forward with developing Canada’s first carbon-storage hubs, intended to help cut climate-warming emissions by permanently sequestering them underground.

The six proposals are projects put forward by Enbridge Inc., Shell, Wolf Carbon Solutions, Bison Low Carbon Ventures, Enhance Energy and a joint-venture project from TC Energy and Pembina Pipeline Corp.

The Alberta Energy Ministry said in a statement the six proposals will begin exploring how to develop environmentally safe carbon-storage hubs.

Thursday’s announcement is the latest step in Alberta’s efforts to nurture a carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry that the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said is critical if the world is to hit net-zero by 2050. IEA estimates carbon-storage capacity needs to reach 7.6 billion tonnes, up from around 40 million tonnes currently.

The six proposed hubs are all near Edmonton and would store emissions from high-polluting facilities in the Alberta Industrial Heartland zone, home to a cluster of refineries, petrochemical and fertilizer plants.

The next step is for the companies selected to work with government to assess whether their proposed locations are suitable for storing carbon permanently. If successful they will be awarded “pore space” rights to inject captured carbon underground.

They will also have to provide open access to all carbon emitters in the region, and affordable use of their hub.

Alberta did not say how much it expects the projects to cost or what their capacity would be.

Provincial Energy Minister Sonya Savage said the government was trying to ensure CCS is deployed “responsibly and strategically” over the long term. “This will help meet the increasing demand from industry and help significantly reduce emissions,” she said in a statement.

The government is also opening a request for proposals for other carbon-storage hubs across the province.

Alberta hopes the six selected hubs will be the first in a series across the province, including one serving the oil sands, after receiving nearly 50 expressions of interest from companies keen to lease pore space to store carbon last year.

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