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Wind Energy: How does it work?

January 11 2017, 09:31 AM

Wind Energy: How does it work?

The future of energy is changing, and we’re changing with it. We’re already planning for how we’ll meet New Brunswickers’ energy needs over the next 25 years. One key element of that is seeing how renewable energy sources fit into our generation mix.

Today in New Brunswick, there’s 294 MW of clean wind energy available to the power grid. This energy is supplied by 113 wind turbines located at 3 wind farms in Lamèque, Kent Hills and near Bathurst. 

As we look ahead at the part wind energy could play in New Brunswick’s energy future, let’s see how it works.

Wind power is one of the simplest forms of energy and its plain to see how. You can even watch the spinning blades on top of the turbines while you are driving along the highway.

The blades on these wind turbines are similar to aircraft wings in their design, allowing the wind to move faster over one side of the blade to give it momentum. The blades catch the wind and spin, which then prompts a generator on top of the turbine to rotate, which then produces electricity.

Even though the blades may appear to move quite slowly from the road or ground, out at the tip of the blade, they can reach speeds of 300km/hour. That’s about the same speed as the race-winning car in the 1976 Indy 500. In other words- they move really, really fast.

Location is important for these wind farms- areas that naturally have higher wind speeds is the single most important factor in determining location. They also come equipped with sensors that turn the whole unit so it is always facing the wind.

Each of the 50 turbines at the Kent Hills wind farm, just outside Petitcodiac, has the capacity to produce 3 MW of electricity- 150 MW for the whole facility. It produces enough energy to power approximately 26,000 New Brunswick homes. 


Supply and demand

Wind facilities run differently from traditional generating stations on our grid. Traditional stations respond to the demand for electricity and use more or less fuel to balance out that demand. Wind farms can only make power when it is windy – regardless of the demand.

Because of the variable nature of wind, operators at these wind farms work to predict the wind speeds a few days in advance so they can help energy companies like NB Power to put this energy onto the grid.

NB Power takes these predictions and balances other sources of energy to make sure there’s a steady supply of electricity for customers at all times, while making sure we get the most out of our clean wind sources. 


Holy Ship! Undersea Cable Project ramps up with world-leading technology

November 17 2016, 13:13 PM

Holy Ship! Undersea Cable Project ramps up with world-leading technology

Meet Isaac Newton – a 12,500 tonne cable installation vessel from Europe that’s helping lay specialized undersea cables between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. These cables will provide NB Power with the ability to sell additional electricity to PEI in the future, which may result in increased export sales.

After taking a trans-Atlantic journey from Rotterdam to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in October 2016, the vessel, with its crew of 75, began its task of laying two 16.5 kilometre, 180 MW cables, that weigh approximately 3,500 tonnes in total, underneath the cool waters of the Northumberland Strait. This work will continue for the next few weeks.

So, how does it work?

This hulking mass of yellow and grey steel is equipped with state of the art systems that allow it to simultaneously dig narrow trenches for the cables, as they unravel from either of the two cable feeders into the seabed below with minimal interruption of the bed and surrounding sea life. Once laid, the same equipment used to dig the trench will adjust the newly laid cable in the right position in the trench.

To help navigate this 460 foot ship along the right path, the crew uses a remotely-operated submarine, which glides along in front of the Newton, giving the crew a close up look at the installation work on the ocean floor.

This Isaac Newton is just the newest piece of machinery used in the complex puzzle of running 33 kilometers of cable under the sea. In May, Maritime Electric also brought in “The Starfish,” a marine excavator from Belgium to help break ground near Cape Tormentine in New Brunswick. Other specialized equipment and crews have also joined this project along the way, including mechanical marine dredges from Quebec City.

Interconnection Upgrade Project

These new undersea cables will complement and eventually replace aging cables that are nearing the end of their life and will offer enough new capacity to meet the Island’s growing energy needs now, and in the future. 60 km of new transmission line construction between Cape Tormentine and Memramcook and substation upgrades in Memramcook will also take place to complete the work on this project.

This project is a collaborative partnership between the Government of Canada and the Government of Prince Edward with Maritime Electric as the construction lead. The project is expected to be completed in May 2017.

 

 

 

The LaForge Dairy Farm – a Biogas success story

November 1 2016, 15:30 PM

The LaForge Dairy Farm – a Biogas success story

In the rural community of Saint-André and among fields of potatoes and other agricultural production, the LaForge Dairy Farm generates enough electricity to power 1000 to 1200 homes thanks to vision, innovation, a hard-working biogas digester and no small amount of organic waste supplied by their own farm and nearby agriculture industry.

The Laforge family had always envisioned diversifying the LaForge Dairy Farm, a 1,000 acre, 200 head dairy cow operation, by integrating a biogas system to generate electricity. They integrated the idea in 1995, having done research 14 years before implementing it.

In 2009, Jacques LaForge, along with his children Louise and Rock, began the process to set up and integrate a biogas system that would connect to NB Power’s grid. The first of its kind to operate in New Brunswick, the anaerobic digester system is a state of the art system that breaks down organic waste, creating a flammable gas that can generate electricity.

How does it work?

The manure from 200 cows, fries, potato skins, starch products, slaughterhouse waste, sludge from waste water treatment system -- it would otherwise all be disposed of-- but thanks to the LaForge anaerobic digester system, that waste is being put to good use- powering homes and business near the LaForge Farm.

Anaerobic digestion is a series of biological processes where microorganisms break down organic matter in the absence of oxygen where one of the end products is biogas. The anaerobic digester is comprised of a large holding tank containing a motorized mixer that churns sediment – cow manure and other organic inputs – and heats it to 40 degrees Celsius.  This mixing and heating generates carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen sulfide. The carbon dioxide and methane are drawn out of the biodigester and fed into the biogas engine which is located nearby. The biogas engine is a specialized tool that produces electricity from the gas.

Heat is a by-product from the Co-Generator and is used to warm the farmhouse through an inlaid system of pipes under the cement floor. Any remaining sediment is moved to an on-site reservoir. Rich in potassium and nitrate, the sludge makes an excellent fertilizer which is used on nearby agricultural land. It is a sizeable and smart closed loop system.

NB Power’s Embedded Generation Program

Working in conjunction with NB Power, the LaForge biogas digester feeds 13 million KWh/year of electricity onto the local grid through NB Power’s Embedded Generation Program.

The purpose for NB Power, says JP Ouellette, is to generate electricity for local consumption.

“In doing so, you reduce losses on the system that occur from moving electricity down the lines. It has the positive effect of helping the local economy, too, “he says.  “Wind, solar, hydro, ocean, biogas, biomass, and landfill gas are all good fits for small-scale, renewable energy projects that could feed energy onto the grid.”

The benefits of generating electricity at the LaForge Dairy Farm are clear. Product by-waste avoids the landfill through ‘recycling’ agricultural and industrial organic waste as inputs to the digester, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and a new stream of revenue has been added to the LaForge Farm, making the anaerobic digester embedded generation project at the LaForge farm a win for all.

“NB Power is open to these kinds of new ideas and is always looking for solutions to get implemented,” said Jacques Laforge.

                              

 

Smart Habits Rebates Are Back!

September 30 2016, 13:43 PM

Smart Habits Rebates Are Back!

With the arrival of fall, New Brunswickers can enjoy instant in-store rebates on energy saving products from September 30 – October 31, 2016.

Since it began, our Smart Habits rebate program has helped New Brunswickers save over $3,656,000 each year in electricity and is helping to lower annual greenhouse gas emissions by 10,528 tonnes.

Take advantage of these rebates with the following products so you can also start saving in-store and on your energy bills.

Programmable thermostats

Did you know that most of energy used in an average home is for space heating? Use a programmable thermostat to set your thermostat back by 3°C and you can save 6% on your heating cost for every 8 hours of setback.

Save $10 on every qualifying programmable thermostat (limit 25 products per person).

Smart strip power bars


Banish vampire power with smart strip power bars. Vampire power – when an idle device draws power, even when not in use, can account for up to 10% of household electricity use. Put an end to it with smart strip power bars.

Save $10 on qualifying smart strip power bars (limit 25 per person).

Smart thermostats

Have you ever left the house and forgot to turn down your thermostat? Smart thermostats help put an end to those “uh oh” moments by letting you adjust your home’s temperature with your smart phone, no matter where you are.

Save $25 on select smart thermostats for electric baseboard heaters (limit 25 products per person).

If you live in the Greater Fredericton, Greater Moncton, Kennebecasis Valley or Grand-Bay Westfield areas, you could be eligible to participate in a first-of-its kind pilot project to research smart thermostats. Learn more here.

LED bulbs and fixtures

LEDs are among the most energy-efficient and long-lasting lighting products available. LEDs use up to 75% less energy and last 25x longer than regular incandescent bulbs.

Save $4-$7 on qualifying LEDs (limit 25 per person).

Visit our rebates page on www.nbpower.com to find a list of eligible products and participating retailers near you.

What products do you plan on purchasing this October? What Smart Habits products have you already purchased and installed to help you save energy? Tell us in the comments below!

 

Electric Vehicles: it’s all about the driving experience, fuel savings and a greener way of getting around

September 15 2016, 14:22 PM

Electric Vehicles: it’s all about the driving experience, fuel savings and a greener way of getting around

Ask any electric vehicle (EV) owner what it’s like to drive an electrically powered vehicle and praise flows quickly- instant acceleration, smooth driving, a startlingly quiet ride and of course, substantive savings on fuel and maintenance. That’s praise enough to impress any driver, from the auto enthusiast to the non-technical commuter.

But for many EV-curious commuters, lots of questions remain. Below, we tackle some of the most commonly posed questions about electric vehicles in New Brunswick.

The newly released BMW i8 is a Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle sports car. The i8 will be on display at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Music Festival on Sat, Sept. 17 from 1-5 p.m.

What’s the difference between a plug-in hybrid and an all-electric vehicle?  A Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) uses both electricity and gas. It has a small battery pack for short all-electric driving distances. A Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) is a fully electric car that never uses gas.

How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle? The answer to this question depends on a few factors: 

  • the battery capacity of the EV.
  • how depleted the battery is.
  • the charging level available.

Typically, EVs can be charged over night from a regular (120 volt) household outlet, known as Level 1 charging common used at home by EV owners.

Increasingly found in public spaces, Level 2 (240 Volts) charging stations can provide a full charge to your EV in 10-12 hours (though you may not need a full charge to get home or to your next destination.)

Level 3 charge stations (at 480 Volts), also known as DC-Quick Chargers or DC Fast Chargers, can provide a full charge in 30 minutes. For more information on charging options available for EVs, visit Plug ‘n Drive Canada.

What kind of savings can I expect?

The cost of buying a new car isn’t just in the price tag. You also need to factor in the cost of ownership. Because electric cars use electricity instead of gas, you can save thousands of dollars per year on fuel costs.

On average in New Brunswick, battery only electric vehicles cost about $300 per year to fuel with electricity compared to over $2,000 in gas costs for an internal combustion engine car. By making the switch to electric vehicles, you could reduce your transportation related CO2 emissions by as much as 84%

What are the environmental benefits of driving an electric vehicle?

New Brunswick’s cars and trucks burn more than 1.1 billion litres of gasoline each year and emit more than 2.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.

The burning of fossil fuels reduces air quality and produces greenhouse gas emissions. Released into our atmosphere, these GHGs are contributing to climate change, extreme weather events and health problems. Most of the CO2 emissions associated with your EV are from the generation of electricity.

By switching to an electric car you can reduce your CO2 emissions by as much as 3,000 kg per year, or about 75%. This is especially true when the electricity used to charge your car’s battery comes from low-emitting energy sources, such nuclear and hydro.



Are you thinking about buying an EV? If you already own an EV, what’s your advice for prospective EV owners?

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