Maxim Power, GE in Canadian Coal-to-Gas Conversion
GE Gas Power said October 26 it had successfully completed the re-powering of Maxim Power’s 204 MW HR Milner II generating station near Grande Cache, in west-central Alberta, using a GE F7.05 simple cycle gas turbine originally delivered to, but never used at, a copper mine in the northern US.
With Alberta committed to replacing coal-fired power plants in the province to natural gas service by 2030, the 150-MW dual-fueled Milner I station was nearing the end of its functional life. In 2019, Maxim Power made the decision to convert the station to gas from coal rather than retire it.
“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 – and we decided to turn to GE to help us transition the facility to natural gas,” Maxim Power president and COO Bob Emmott said.
Maxim had already located the un-used turbine, but needed GE’s help to relocate the unit and deliver it to the Milner station, about 430 km west of Edmonton. GE also modernised the Milner station’s combustion system to address local fuel gas qualities, improve plant efficiency and reduce its environmental footprint to meet provincial and federal specifications and standards.
“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,” said Eric Gray, GE’s vice-president, Americas region. “Gas’ flexibility and efficiency compliments renewable energy as it balances electric system loads and helps maintain grid reliability.”
The Milner II plant (shown in photo, courtesy Maxim Power) was commissioned in June 2020 and is now generating enough power to meet the needs of 208,000 Canadian homes. The legacy Milner I station has been mothballed but remains available for possible use with Milner II in a 300-MW combined-cycle configuration.