Genesee Generating Station. Capital Power

In a few months, only Saskatchewan will remain burning coal in Western Canada

 

The last coal-fired power station in Alberta will soon be out of coal. A few weeks ago, a notice posted to the the Alberta Electric System Operator website provided an update on its conversion to natural gas. This summer the conversion workforce peaked at 1,250. The repowering will also add an additional 538 megawatts of incremental power to the grid, according to Capital Power. Total capital costs are expected to be $1.35 billion.

Genessee will follow the path of several other Alberta power stations, one started when the Alberta NDP were in power. It will be converted to burn natural gas. While this provides a market for the province’s natural gas companies, it also has meant the closure of several coal mines.

As it stands now, Genesee Units 1 and 2 are the last units in the province still burning coal, in a province that has enormous coal reserves under huge portions of its land. On its website, Capital Power says, “We’re repowering Genesee 1 & 2 to utilize best-in-class natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) technology, positioning them to be the most efficient NGCC units in Canada when completed. The repowered units will have improved emission intensity, performance, and competitiveness and when complete, will immediately reduce our emissions at Genesee by 3.4 million tonnes annually.

“Our Genesee 3 facility completed upgrades in 2023, enabling it to burn 100% natural gas as its primary fuel source – an essential step in moving the entire Genesee Generating Station off coal.”

And under the heading of carbon capture and storage, Capital Power says, “This development project is anticipated to capture 95% of the CO2 emitted from the repowered units, delivering approximately 3 million tonnes of annual CO2 reductions. This project is currently in the stage of final due diligence and commercial/financing assessment; a final investment decision will be announced when this is complete.”

That would be three times the design size of the SaskPower Boundary Dam Unit 3 Carbon Capture and Storage Project. However, BD3 has yet to achieve its design spec of 1 million tonnes of CO2 captured per year. And if built, it will be one of the first grid-scale carbon capture units on a natural gas power station. This is a crucial consideration, as the proposed federal Clean Electricity Regulations envision natural gas-fired power generation only being allowed to operate on a continual basis if it has extremely effective carbon capture installed.

Capital Power is also planning on its “Genesee Carbon Conversion Centre (GC3). The website noted, “We’re planning to build one of the world’s largest commercial scale production facilities of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) at our Genesee Generating Station. GC3 will utilize emissions from the facility alongside C2CNT technology, a carbon conversion solution that transforms emissions into highly valuable carbon nanotubes.”

As for the Genesee Mine, “The Genesee Mine operation, located in Leduc County, is a 50/50 joint venture between Capital Power LP and Westmoreland Coal Company. The Genesee Mine will cease operations as the facility transitions to natural gas. Reclamation work will continue at the mine to return the land to its natural state.”

The ending of coal-fired power at Genesee means that SaskPower will be the only power generator in Western Canada still using coal for power generation. Manitoba discontinued coal usage at its Brandon facility in 2018.

On Dec. 19, coal provided 29 per cent of power for Saskatchewan, but on some days it exceeds 40 per cent.

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This is the notice posted to the AESO website. It does not state when the last coal will be used, nor does the media section of Capital Power’s website. But it does say when natural gas is expected to be employed.

Notice re. Status of Genesee Re-Powering Project and Genesee Units 1 (GN1) and 2 (GN2)

Updated Nov. 27, 2023

Pursuant to Section 4 of the Fair, Efficient and Open Competition Regulation, Capital Power has notified the AESO of several outages related to the re-powering of Genesee Unit 1 (GN1) and Unit 2 (GN2) as combined cycle facilities (GNR1 and GNR2). Given the size and scope of the project, the following schedule is fluid. During commissioning there will be periods where the generation output of the units varies from full load to no output. Once the GNR1 and GNR2 asset IDs are available in the AESO’s Energy Trading System, information about the project will be updated and reported there and this page will no longer be updated.

  • On Feb. 16, 2024, Capital Power plans to connect for commissioning a new gas turbine with the asset ID GNR1. The maximum capability (MC) of GNR1 will initially be 411 MW.
  • On July 15, 2024, Capital Power plans to begin an outage of GNR1 to tie-in the refurbished GN1 steam turbine asset.
  • On July 23, 2024, GNR1 will return to service for commissioning as a combined cycle unit. The steam turbine formerly operating as GN1 will become part of the GNR1 asset.

The re-powering of Genesee Unit 2 will approximately reflect the re-powering of Unit 1:

  • On May 1, 2024, Capital Power plans to connect for commissioning a new gas turbine with the asset ID GNR2. The MC of GNR2 will initially be 411 MW.
  • On Sept. 20, 2024, Capital Power plans to begin an outage of GNR2 to tie-in the refurbished GN2 steam turbine asset.
  • On Sept. 28, 2024, GNR2 will return to service for commissioning as a combined cycle unit. The steam turbine formerly operating as GN2 will become part of the GNR2 asset.

This schedule is based on Capital Power’s best estimates at the time of publishing this notice.

Note: The current functional specification for GNR1 and GNR2, approved by the AESO on May 27, 2022, capped the MC of each asset at 466 MW to reflect the current Most Severe Single Contingency (MSSC) limitation. The MC of these assets may be revised in the future.

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Saskatchewan’s Year in Energy: Premier Scott Moe, 2023: Part 2 Oil Drilling, or Lack Thereof