Innovation

Innovation in Action

We are focused on solving one of the most important issues facing society – how to reduce our carbon footprint and create sustainable energy for tomorrow. We recognize innovation as the key to creating a sustainable energy future for generations to come.

Our teams are hard at work every day and committed to driving innovative solutions to address our need for sustainable energy. We are focused on the development and implementation of new and better solutions for the future of power and our environment. And, because innovation is not solely about advances in technology, we continuously pursue process improvements and efficiency gains at our existing operations. Some of our recent initiatives include:

Reducing Emissions and Improving Thermal Generation Efficiency

At our Genesee Generating Station in Alberta we are working to reduce and eventually eliminate coal as part of our fuel mix. In 2019, we will complete the third year of our innovative five-year Genesee Performance Standard (GPS), a $35 million efficiency improvement program aimed at reducing fuel consumption and our carbon footprint by 10% by 2021, and by a further 40% after conversion to natural gas.

Our Genesee 3* unit is Canada’s first power generation facility to use supercritical combustion technology for greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Our Keephills 3* facility also uses an advanced air-quality-control system and supercritical boiler technology. Environmental performance is enhanced by supercritical combustion and clean air technologies, which achieve greater efficiency and lower CO2, NOx and SO2 emissions per megawatt compared to older technologies. CO2 emissions from these units are approximately 24% lower than emissions from recently retired coal-fired generation in Alberta. Clean-air technologies at these facilities include:

  • Fabric filters that stop 99.8% of particulate matter from reaching the atmosphere
  • A flue gas desulphurization unit that brings sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions well below the provincial emission standard, and less than half the emissions produced by vintage facilities
  • Low nitrous oxide (NOx) burners that reduce NOx emissions by 70%

We also invest our time and expertise to ensure our facilities in operation are continuously optimized and running efficiently. At our Decatur Energy Center, we recently upgraded a combustion turbine to improve efficiency and output. The upgrades are also expected to improve environmental performance through reduced emissions.

“The Decatur upgrade is a perfect example of how we’re making significant investments in innovative technologies to improve generation performance at our facilities, leading the way to more efficient and low-carbon generation.”Darcy Trufyn, SVP Operations, Engineering & Construction

*Genesee 3 and Keephills 3 are jointly owned by Capital Power and TransAlta.


Maximizing Dual-fuel Flexibility

We are proceeding with plans to maximize the flexibility of the three units at the Genesee Generating Station to utilize both natural gas and coal as fuel. Expanding the use of natural gas will result in significantly lower absolute emissions relative to the current configurations of the units.

The modifications will provide the Genesee facility with operational flexibility to optimize the fuel-mix at the units between coal and natural gas in response to market conditions and enable the facility to remain as a source of competitive, reliable and responsible baseload power generation for Alberta.


Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS)

We are committed to doing our part in the transition to a lower carbon energy future. That’s why we’re proud to support and advance the deployment of CCUS technology.

We recognize CCUS as being an integral part of the long-term solution for achieving climate policy objectives in North America and globally – we are engaged on several fronts to advance its development and demonstration. The commercial application of CCUS technologies could enable zero or near-zero emission natural gas generation to help us integrate more renewables into our reliable and affordable power systems, and reduce emissions from the many industrial processes that will continue to rely on natural gas. By converting carbon into a range of useful and valuable products, CCUS will also create new jobs and employment opportunities in multiple sectors.

Transforming Carbon Emissions into Leading-Edge Carbon Nanotube Products with C2CNT

In Spring 2018, we acquired a 5% equity interest in C2CNT a technology company developing a proprietary solution to transform carbon into carbon nanotubes.  In May 2019, we committed to increase our equity interest to 9% by March of 2020 and we also have the right to provide notice to exercise two tranches of options in 2020 for an additional 31% equity interest in C2CNT.  If exercised, Capital Power’s equity ownership of C2CNT would increase to a total of 40%.

C2CNT, led by Dr. Stuart Licht, also a professor of chemistry at George Washington University, has developed and is now applying at scale an innovative technology that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial process streams and competitively transforms it into carbon nanotubes at a significantly reduced cost compared to current industry production processes. This technology has the potential to be a game-changer in the treatment and management of CO2 from energy and industrial operations.

To learn more about C2CNT and its impacts on CO2 mitigation, read C2CNT Corp.’s latest press release.

What are Carbon Nanotubes?

Carbon nanotubes are stronger than steel and lighter than aluminum. A conductive, high-value product, they can be used as an additive to substantially increase the strength of materials such as concrete, steel, and aluminum.

Using nanotubes avoids carbon dioxide emissions in two ways:

  1. It captures emissions at the source (e.g. natural gas power generation) and transforms the carbon emissions into carbon nanotubes
  2. By using carbon nanotubes as an additive in industrial processes (e.g. manufacturing concrete or steel) it reduces the amount of carbon-intensive materials needed to deliver the product

Supporting Demonstration and Deployment of C2CNT Technology

C2CNT is currently among five finalists competing in the natural gas track of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition. As part of the XPRIZE competition, C2CNT will start testing their technology at demonstration scale at the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre located in Calgary at the Shepard Energy Centre (co-owned by Capital Power and ENMAX).

In addition to the support from Capital Power, Lehigh Hanson (Lehigh), a subsidiary of HeidelbergCement A.G. a worldwide construction materials company, has agreed to conduct testing for the utilization of carbon nanotubes in concrete at their cost. The testing is expected in the fall of 2019 followed by limited marketing of the carbon nanotubes in concrete product in the first half of 2020. Lehigh has also made a modest financial contribution to C2CNT development.

Our investment in C2CNT supports our pursuit of innovative and leading-edge technologies to reduce greenhouse gases from our operations. In addition to our equity investment, we will be responsible for designing, building and operating the first commercial C2CNT facility.


Turning Waste into Clean Energy

A significant investment in equipment to allow our Roxboro and Southport Power Plants to burn alternate fuels, including wood residuals and tire-derived fuel, has reduced coal usage by 90%. Tire-derived fuel is the product of chipping waste tires for fuel. Wood waste is an abundant by-product fuel produced by North Carolina’s extensive forestry-related industries.


Preparing for Cybersecurity Threats

In 2017, we became the first power generator in Canada to sign a cyber security partnership agreement with the Government of Canada’s premier cyber security organization, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE). This partnership allows for the sharing of threat intelligence, which will help us protect computer systems in the event of an attack. We are now linked to a large critical-infrastructure cyber protection community.

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