SaskPower wraps up plant expansion; gas moves ahead of coal in Saskatchewan

Canadian provincial power producer SaskPower on Oct. 22 officially unveiled its newly commissioned “D Plant” at Saskatoon’s Queen Elizabeth Power Station.

The C$525 million project, delivered on time and on budget, adds 204 MW of capacity. Natural gas plays an important role in generating power in Saskatchewan, and with the capacity from this new project, becomes the number one generating source in the province, surpassing conventional coal. Notable is that SaskPower is hosting a cutting-edge carbon capture and storage project at its Boundary Dam coal plant, reducing CO2 emissions from 110 MW of capacity.

“This expansion is a critical investment in our electrical infrastructure, and our province’s future,” said SaskPower President and CEO Mike Marsh. “This is part of our long-term plan to renew and expand our power grid, and meet a growing demand for electricity, which is expected to grow by 13 per cent over the next five years.”

The project involved converting three gas turbines from simple-cycle to combined-cycle, which means a 10%-15% increase in efficiency. This newest addition adds to upgrades that were completed in 1971, 2002 and 2009. The power station was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II in 1959.

Natural gas-based power produces less than half of the greenhouse gas emissions of conventional coal, SaskPower noted. It is a flexible technology that can provide baseload (24/7) power, and can quickly provide power for peak hours. Natural gas plants can also be put into service more quickly than other options, which is ideal to meet rising power demand.

“Natural gas is an important part of our generation mix because it supports our future plans for additional wind capacity, ensuring that necessary backup power is available,” said SaskPower Vice President of Planning, Environment and Sustainable Development Guy Bruce. “Currently, 25 per cent of our available capacity comes from renewables, and we plan to add even more in the future. Our goal is a diversified portfolio of options – one that balances reliability, affordability and environmental impact.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.