Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC) funding recipient NRGreen Power is entering Alberta’s clean energy scene with an ambitious goal of matching energy demand with environmental responsibility. With backing from partner Alliance Pipeline, one of North America’s largest pipeline companies, it’s a goal that seems closer every day.
Using a proven, innovative waste heat technology, the nine-year-old company plans to generate up to 14MW of electricity – enough energy to power 14,000 homes – from Alliance Pipeline’s natural gas compressor station near Whitecourt, Alberta. Waste heat recovery units capture the exhaust from natural gas turbines and convert it into emissions-free electricity.
Utilizing this type of energy efficiency technology provides a two-fold benefit. “The technology will convert waste heat into electricity to feed the Alberta power grid but it also produces significant GHG offsets,” explains Troy Randall, Business Development Manager with NRGreen Power.
Although not a new concept, waste heat power technology is just now gaining acceptance in the clean energy arena, creating a few challenges for the company. “Capturing waste heat is now starting to be recognized as being green, just like geothermal and wind power. But there are some obstacles to gaining widespread acceptance for green waste heat energy that are slowly being overcome,” says Randall.
For proof that it works, look no further than next door. Four NRGreen waste heat units are in operation at Alliance compressor stations across Saskatchewan, with each unit producing five megawatts of power to be fed into the provincial grid. NRGreen couldn’t pass up the opportunity of recycling the massive amounts of energy that were being lost. “As the heat would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, capturing the released heat is just really efficient. Twenty to thirty times more efficient,” explains Jim Walsh, Vice President of Canadian Operations with NRGreen Power.
The Whitecourt Recovered Energy Project signals NRGreen’s first venture into Alberta. It is also the company’s first step in helping to bring more green power into Alberta’s electricity grid. Starting with Alliance’s facilities in Alberta, the company hopes to see more projects embracing the technology.
But NRGreen admits that goal would not have been possible without support from CCEMC. “Without the CCEMC funding, the project would not go. There’s a lot of risk involved in green energy projects and the funding bridges this gap,” Randall says.