August 2008

Going green at EPCOR

By R. Pillo


The Syncrude Award for Excellence in Sustainable Development promotes the Canadian minerals industry as an active seeker of sustainability solutions that engage and affect the Canadian public. This year’s winner — EPCOR Utilities’ Genesee 3 station — has achieved just that, setting new standards for Canadian power production.

Built and operated by EPCOR, and owned jointly with TransAlta Corporation, the 495-megawatt unit is Canada’s first generation facility to use supercritical combustion technology for greater fuel efficiency and significantly lower emissions. David Lewin, senior advisor, corporate relations, EPCOR Utilities Inc., discussed the G3’s sustainability effects on our industry.

CIM: What is the G3 initiative?

Lewin: EPCOR’s Genesee Generating Station includes three units. The latest, Genesee 3 (G3), is the cleanest-burning coal-fired power plant in Canada. It went into commercial operation on March 1, 2005, and is the most advanced coal-fired plant ever built in Canada. The three units at Genesee have each raised the bar for environmental performance and reliability. G3 is equipped with $90 million in clean air technologies and will provide enough power for a city of 350,000.

CIM: How does the technology benefit the environment?

Lewin: G3’s environmental performance is enhanced by the use of supercritical combustion and clean air technologies. In a supercritical boiler, higher temperatures and steam pressures, together with a high-efficiency steam turbine, create a more efficient process for converting thermal energy into electricity. The process reduces emissions by using less coal per megawatt hour of electrical energy than conventional processes.

In addition, G3 was further supplemented with another $90-million in scrubbing equipment. Thus, G3’s clean air technology goes beyond current provincial and national environmental standards.

CIM:  What has winning the Syncrude Award for Excellence in Sustainable Development done for EPCOR?

Lewin: We are proud and honoured to receive the Syncrude Award for Excellence in Sustainable Development. This type of recognition from industry validates what we are trying to achieve in clean-coal and CCS technology.

CIM: What other upcoming initiatives and projects is EPCOR involved in?

Lewin: EPCOR is partnering with TransAlta on a supercritical 450-MW coal-fired plant at Keephills. We’re also the only company in Alberta involved with all four carbon capture and storage research and development initiatives in Alberta today — the Alberta Saline Aquifer Project, the Integrated CO2 Network plan, the Heartland Area Redwater Project and the Wabamun Area Storage Project.

Each of these initiatives could complement the most important project underway within EPCOR today: the Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle study, which will determine which gasification technology best suits Genesee sub-bituminous coal. Should a project proceed, it would cost in the billions of dollars. The earliest possible date for commercial operation is 2015.

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