Epcor, TransAlta mark beginning of Genesee 3 facility commercial operation
The 450-megawatt (MW) Genesee 3 (G3) generating facility, the most advanced coal-fired plant ever built in Canada, officially went into commercial operation on March 1. A joint venture between Epcor Utilities and TransAlta, the $695-million G3 is equipped with $90 million worth of clean air technologies which will offset carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to a level equivalent to a natural gas-fired combined-cycle plant. This marks the first commitment of its kind in Canada.
"From its inception, G3 was designed to set a new standard for coal-fired generation in Canada," said Epcor president and CEO Don Lowry. "After four years of hard work, the Epcor development team is opening Genesee 3 on time, on budget, and with one of the best safety records in the industry. We're also making history with G3's environmental performance."
Genesee 3 will have half the nitrogen oxide emissions of existing coal-fired generation, and will prevent 99.8% of fine particulates from reaching the atmosphere. It will also cut sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions significantly below the provincial emission standard. Supercritical combustion and clean air technologies will bring G3's CO2 emissions to a level 18% below those of the average Alberta coal-fired plant. Greenhouse gas emissions will be further offset down to the level of a natural gas combined cycle plant-a 52% reduction.
G3 is Canada's first generation facility using a supercritical pressure boiler. 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 uses less coal per megawatt hour of electrical energy than the conventional subcritical process, thereby reducing emissions.
Construction of the facility was led by Epcor, which will operate G3 alongside the its existing Genesee 1 and 2 units. When on line, G3 will dispatch a minimum net 176 MW of power to the grid. Beyond that minimum, Epcor and TransAlta will each independently dispatch their 50% share of power. G3 is the largest single generation unit ever added to Alberta's power grid.