NB Power to find new fuel source for Belledune plant

By Erin Voegele | December 14, 2017

New Brunswick, Canada-based NB Power has announced plans to eliminate coal from its energy mix by 2030 by identifying a new energy source for its Belledune Generating Station. The utility is investigating the use of hydrogen, biomass and natural gas as alternatives.

The announcement was made in cooperation with New Brunswick Energy and Resource Development. In 2016, the provincial government committed to work with the federal government, neighboring provinces, NB Power and other stakeholders toward phasing out coal as a source of electricity as quickly as possible.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge facing humankind,” said Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet. “Coal-fired power plants are major emitters of greenhouse gases, and we have an opportunity to explore new alternative fuel sources while, at the same time, growing the provincial economy through innovation.”

NB Power has invested up to $7 million to investigate the use of hydrogen fuel sources at the Belledune facility, and is also looking into biomass and natural gas as alternatives.

“We have a tremendous asset in the power plant at Belledune, and we plan to capitalize on that asset by investigating innovative, leading sources of alternative fuel,” said Doucet. “In the unlikely event an alternative fuel source cannot be found, an equivalency agreement could still be pursued with Ottawa consistent with the federal government’s low carbon economy plan.”

Information published by NB Power notes the utility generates power at 12 hydro, coal, oil and diesel-powered stations. Together, these facilities have an installed net capacity of 2,853 MW. This includes 1,439 MW of thermal, 889 MW of hydro and 525 MW of combustion turbine capacity.

The Belledune facility is a baseload unit with 467 MW of capacity. Construction on the facility began in 1991.