The acquisition of Canadian Hydro Developers’ facilities in 2009 advanced TransAlta’s renewables strategy by approximately two years, increasing our renewables portfolio to 22 per cent of the fleet. We also began construction on Summerview 2 wind farm, completed construction of Blue Trail wind farm and have announced or begun construction on another two wind farms. Investments in hydro and geothermal operations will also continue to drive the company toward its goal of 24 per cent renewable energy sources by 2012. Because we did not take management control of Canadian Hydro Developers until late in 2009, those assets have not been included in this report unless otherwise noted.
While absolute emission levels for greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter decreased, emission intensity levels for these substances as well as mercury increased in 2009. This was due to more dispatch variability at our Alberta coal facilities and the sale of non-strategic natural gas assets with lower emission rates than coal facilities.
Coal-fired power generation will continue to be the most reliable and affordable source of electricity for some time. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is widely accepted as a key option for addressing greenhouse gas emissions associated with coal. In 2009, TransAlta made significant advances for reducing its mercury emissions into the future, and received funding for its CCS demonstration project, Project Pioneer. The project is expected to be operational in 2015.
We manage our assets diligently through risk assessments, environmental inspections, monitoring and regular audits. We require all of our sites to conform to the international ISO 14001 standard for environmental management systems. We are continually researching and implementing processes to reduce our environmental impact.