Spotlight on hydropower project development in Canada

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Canada still has significant untapped hydro potential, and this article provides insight into eight projects that are being built or are planned for future construction across the country. An impressive number: The work in this article represents more than US$33 billion of investment.

What is the status of hydropower development in Canada? This article will give you insights into work under way at hydro projects either planned or under construction in eight Canadian provinces. In all, this activity could add more than 3,880 MW of clean, renewable hydropower capacity in the country. Even more impressive, the total dollar value of this development work would be well over US$33 billion.

You may notice we haven’t covered every area of the country. In total, Canada is made up of 10 provinces and three territories. However, in five of these, we are not aware of any current significant hydro project development activity: Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island and Yukon. Therefore, these five are not included in this article. If you know of a project we should cover in the future, email elizabethi@pennwell.com.


Alberta

Project Name: Brazeau Hydro Pumped Storage

Developer: TransAlta

Location: Brazeau County (southwest of Drayton Valley)

Waterway: Brazeau River

Generating Capacity: Up to 900 MW

Construction Start Date: 2021 (estimated)

Construction Complete Date: 2025 (estimated)

Anticipated Cost: C$1.8 billion to $2.5 billion (US$1.4 billion to $2 billion)

Details: TransAlta is planning to develop a hydro pumped-storage project at its existing hydro facility on the Brazeau Reservoir, southwest of Drayton Valley. The Brazeau Hydro Pumped Storage Project has the potential to provide a capacity of up to 900 MW of renewable energy, close to where the power is needed, while creating economic opportunities for Albertans, TransAlta says. The project would support the transition to generate 30% of Alberta’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The proposed project would provide benefits to Alberta’s electricity system, backstopping fluctuations in wind and solar generation. Development work on the Brazeau Hydro Pumped Storage project began in November 2016. For more information, visit brazeauhydro.com.

A hydro pumped storage project is being studied for development at the existing conventional Brazeau facility in Alberta. It could have a capacity up to 900 MW.


British Columbia

Project Name: Site C

Developer: BC Hydro

Location: Fort St. John

Waterway: Peace River

Generating Capacity: 1,100 MW

Construction Start Date: Summer 2015

Construction Complete Date: 2024

Anticipated Cost: C$8.8 billion (US$7 billion)

Details: This project, the third dam and hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River, will consist of a 1,050-m-long earthfill dam 60 m high above the riverbed. An 800-meter-long roller-compacted-concrete buttress will be built to enhance seismic protection. The powerhouse will contain six 183-MW turbine-generator units and is expected to produce about 5,100 GWh of electricity annually. Site C will take advantage of water already stored in the Williston Reservoir, generating about 35% of the energy produced at the W.A.C. Bennett powerhouse with only 5% of the reservoir area. The provincial government approved Site C to proceed to construction in December 2014.

Product and Service Providers Involved: A.L. Sims and Sons, ATCO Two Rivers Lodging Group, Morgan Construction and Environmental, Paul Paquette and Son’s Contracting, Peace River Hydro Partners (ACCIONA Infrastructure Canada Inc. and Samsung C&T Canada Ltd.), Voith Hydro

The 1,100-MW Site C hydro project in British Columbia is under construction and is expected to be complete about 2024.

The 1,100-MW Site C hydro project in British Columbia is under construction and is expected to be complete about 2024.


Manitoba

Project Name: Keeyask

Developer: Keeyask Hydropower Limited Partnership (Manitoba Hydro, Tataskweyak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, York Factory First Nation and Fox Lake Cree Nation)

Location: 725 km northeast of Winnipeg

Waterway: Nelson River

Generating Capacity: 695 MW

Construction Start Date: July 2014

First Unit in Service Date: August 2021

Anticipated Cost: C$8.7 billion (US$7 billion)

Details: The Keeyask Generating Station is under construction 35 km upstream of the existing 1,220-MW Kettle Generating Station. It will involve more than 2 km of dams across Gull Rapids, a seven-bay spillway on the south side of Gull Rapids, and 23 km of dykes built on the north and south side of the reservoir. The reservoir impounded will be about 93 square kilometers and about 40 kilometers long. The powerhouse/service bay complex built across the north side of Gull Rapids will contain seven turbine-generator units. When complete, it will be the province’s fourth largest generating station and is expected to produce 4,400 GWh of electricity annually.

Major Construction Contractors: Amisk Construction, BBE Hydro Constructors Limited Partnership (Bechtel Canada Co., Barnard Construction of Canada Ltd., EllisDon Civil Ltd.), Canmec Industries, Hatch Ltd., Triple M Modular Ltd., Voith Hydro

In Manitoba, the 695-MW Keeyask hydroelectric facility is under construction and will be the province’s fourth largest generating station when complete.

In Manitoba, the 695-MW Keeyask hydroelectric facility is under construction and will be the province’s fourth largest generating station when complete.


New Brunswick

Project Name: Grand Falls Expansion

Developer: NB Power

Location: Grand Falls

Waterway: Saint John River

Generating Capacity: 100 MW

Construction Start Date: Not yet determined

Construction Complete Date: Not yet determined

Details: The latest work on this project was the preparation of a cost estimate to be used in future planning. The estimate was based on an expansion consisting of adding a new 100-MW station beside the existing 66-MW Grand Falls generating station. NB Power carried out preliminary environmental and geotechnical studies and site testing in 2016 in support of the engineering estimate. The project would require construction of a new intake structure and powerhouse, including a second tunnel. The information obtained from this exercise will be used for future planning by NB Power. This unit would help NB Power meet its long-term clean energy requirements: 40% of the utility’s in-province electricity sales must come from renewable sources by 2020.

Product and Service Providers Involved: GHD, Hatch Ltd., Peter Kiewit Sons ULC, Stantec


Newfoundland and Labrador

Project Name: Muskrat Falls

Developer: Nalcor Energy

Location: Labrador

Waterway: Churchill River

Generating Capacity: 824 MW

Construction Start Date: 2013

Construction Complete Date: End of 2019 (first power) and fall 2020 (full power)

Anticipated Cost: C$10.1 billion (US$7.9 billion), which includes C$5.5 billion for generation assets and C$4.6 billion for transmission assets

Details: The Muskrat Falls hydroelectric generation facility is being built downstream from the existing Churchill Falls plant and is one component of the lower Churchill River complex that could eventually include the 2,250-MW Gull Island plant. The facility consists of a spillway, two dams and a powerhouse containing four turbine-generator units. Once constructed, it will be the second largest hydroelectric facility in the province.

Product and Service Providers Involved: Andritz Hydro Canada, Astaldi Canada, Barnard Pennecon LP, Cahill-Ganotec Joint Venture, Gilbert Newfoundland and Labrador Contracting Ltd., Johnsons Construction Ltd.


Ontario

Project Name: Yellow Falls

Developer: Boralex Inc.

Location: 18 km south of Smooth Rock Falls

Waterway: Mattagami River

Generating Capacity: 16 MW

Construction Start Date: April 2015

Construction Complete Date: 2017

Anticipated Cost: C$74.3 million (US$57.9 million)

Details: The run-of-river project consists of a concrete dam, intake, and spillway with three vertical-lift fixed roller gates and one set of stoplogs. The powerhouse contains two 8-MW turbine-generator units. A 39-year power purchase agreement is in place with Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator. The project is a collaboration with the Taykwa Tagamou Nation and the Mattagami First Nation, which have contractual rights to acquire an interest of up to 31.25% in the scheme.

Product and Service Providers Involved: Neilson, Stantec Consulting

The 16-MW Yellow Falls hydro plant in Ontario was nearing completion at the time we developed this article.

The 16-MW Yellow Falls hydro plant in Ontario was nearing completion at the time we developed this article.


Quebec

Project Name: Romaine-4

Developer: Hydro-Quebec

Location: Havre-Saint-Pierre

Waterway: Romaine River

Generating Capacity: 245 MW

Construction Start Date: August 2016

Construction Complete Date: 2020

Anticipated Cost: US$6.5 billion (for all four facilities)

Details: This project is part of the 1,550-MW La Romaine complex, which involves four generating stations and reservoirs spaced over 150 km along the Romaine River, located on the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Each station has an associated rockfill dam, two generating units, and a spillway. Each generating station is linked to the regional highway via a permanent access road 150 km long. The 640-MW Romaine-2 station was completed in 2014, 270-MW Romaine-1 was completed in 2015, and 395-MW Romaine-3 was completed in 2017. The 245-MW Romaine-4 facility is under construction.

Product and Service Providers Involved: AECOM, CIMA+, Cegerco, EBC Inc., GE Energy, Groupe RSW, Neilson, Pomerleau, SNC-Lavalin, Tetra Tech, Thirau Itee, Voith Hydro, WSP

245-MW Romaine-4 is the last of four powerhouses being developed in Quebec as part of the La Romaine complex.

245-MW Romaine-4 is the last of four powerhouses being developed in Quebec as part of the La Romaine complex.


Saskatchewan

Project Name: Saskatoon Weir Run-of-River Hydropower Project

Developer: Saskatoon Light & Power, a division of the City of Saskatoon

Location: Saskatoon

Waterway: South Saskatchewan River

Generating Capacity: 6.1 MW

Construction Start Date: 2020

Construction Complete Date: 2022

Anticipated Cost: C$65 million (US$50.6 million)

Details: This hydro project would be built at the existing Saskatoon Weir on the South Saskatchewan River. This weir was completed in 1940 and is an 11-foot-high concrete ogee-crested structure about 985 feet long. The existing weir infrastructure would be renewed and the hydropower station would be built on the university side of the river (river right). The city expects project funding to come from the Saskatoon Tribal Council and private partners, offset from revenue generated by the power station and funding from other levels of government.

Product and Service Providers Involved: Knight Piesold, Midgard Consulting

In Saskatchewan, the 6.1-MW Saskatoon Weir project is anticipated to be built, with work to begin in 2020.

In Saskatchewan, the 6.1-MW Saskatoon Weir project is anticipated to be built, with work to begin in 2020.


Elizabeth Ingram is managing editor of Hydro Review.

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