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Alberta coal-fired project converted to natural gas using GE turbine

Canadian independent producer Maxim Power worked with GE and other companies in its transition from coal-fired to natural gas-fired generation at its Milner II plant.

The 204-MW facility began generating gas-fired power into the Alberta grid recently. The shift from coal-fired power cuts carbon emissions by 50 percent.

“Canada is part of the international community moving toward a decarbonized future, with Alberta committed to a phase-out of coal power by 2030,” said Bob Emmott, President and Chief Operating Officer of Maxim Power Corp. “We were faced with the reality of shuttering the facility or re-powering it with natural gas – the cleanest burning fossil fuel, emitting less than half the CO2 of a coal plant, significantly lower nitrous oxides and particulate matter, no mercury and essentially no sulfur oxides.”

For this project, GE provided relocation support with a DLN2.6+ upgrade and secured a contractual services agreement for its GE 7F.05 gas turbine.

The project also provided new life for a GE turbine Maxum had acquired from a third party about eight years ago. The 7F.05 had been stored, unused, at a site near a copper mine in the northern U.S.

The relocation project included the task of moving the massive turbine from the United States to Alberta and the modernization of the existing combustion system with GE’s DLN2.6+ technology to address local fuel gas qualities, improve plant efficiency and reduce its environmental footprint to meet Canadian and local government specifications and standards.

 “In North America, energy usage has been changing for many years: as the availability of natural gas and renewables has increased, and the use of coal has declined,” said Eric Gray, Vice President for Americas region, GE Gas Power.  “Alberta is implementing a broad coal phase-out plan and we are honored to support power plant operators, like Maxim Power, to embrace the flexibility gas technology offers to complement renewables including solar and wind. Gas’ flexibility and efficiency compliments renewable energy as it balances electric system loads and helps maintain grid reliability.”

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The Milner II plant is located in Alberta near Grand Cache. Coal-fired Unit 1 was commissioned nearly 50 years ago, while Unit 2 was originally planned as a supercritical coal-fired turbine project. Unit 1 was converted to a dual-fuel sub-bituminous coal and coal hybrid last year.

BPC Milner handled engineering, procurement and construction duties on the project. The contractor was a joint venture between PCL Construction and Black & Veatch.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and the online POWERGEN+ series of industry content sessions. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected]).