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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?

Upgrading transmission insulators to improve reliability

September 1 2016, 07:47 AM

Upgrading transmission insulators to improve reliability

As part of NB Power’s plan to continuously improve reliability for our customers, we are currently upgrading 1650 porcelain insulators on our transmission system.

Insulators are used on transmission and distributions systems to separate the electrically charged part of the equipment from an uncharged part of the infrastructure.

Without insulators to keep the current flowing where it supposed to be (in the conductor), infrastructure and the ground would become energized leaving the public and our employees at a great risk.

The insulators installed in areas along the coast and near industrial sites, are about 15 years old, with a life expectancy of 60 years. However, a  variety of  environmental factors have been determined to cause the porcelain insulators to overheat and crack, which has been the cause of a number of power outages in the southern part of the province recently. 

“This work will most certainly improve reliability in the area,” said Darren Baxter, Project Lead. “These new insulators have a proven track record with 20 years of successful installations.”

The new insulators are made of glass and have a special coating designed to withstand greater exposure to the elements than the existing porcelain insulators.

“We are confident this insulator replacement project will help to significantly reduce the frequency of transmission –related power interruptions,” said Baxter. “Our crews are specially trained to ensure the new insulators are installed in the most efficient manner, to ensure top service for our customer.”

So far NB Power crews have replaced approximately 600 porcelain insulators, primarily in the Courtney Bay area. NB Power expects to have the remaining 1050 insulators replaced by spring 2017.

 

Engineers and Geoscientists New Brunswick leads the way with 15 kilowatt solar array

August 26 2016, 09:28 AM

Engineers and Geoscientists New Brunswick leads the way with 15 kilowatt solar array

Since June 2015, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick (APEGNB) have had their Fredericton-based head office connected to the New Brunswick energy grid through NB Power’s Net Metering Program. The Association’s Council members were inspired to explore renewable energy generation options after hearing a presentation by NB Power executives in the summer of 2014.

The members of the Association heard NB Power President and CEO Gaëtan Thomas, PEng, speak about the future of NB Power, energy in New Brunswick and trends in the electric utility business. Mr. Thomas spoke about a future that embraces renewables, smart grids, smart user systems, distributed generation and net metering. These - and other methods - will help to reduce peak demand and provide more security and flexibility in the province’s electric utility business.

Motivated by this message, and recognizing the societal need to mitigate climate change and inspire confidence in renewable energy, the Association decided to take a ‘lead by example’ approach. As a regulatory body ensuring only qualified and licensed professionals practice engineering and geoscience in the province, it was important to their members that the Association provide social leadership as an early adopter of renewable energy.

 “We are the people at the forefront of new technology—from its development to its implementation,” said past President Paul Campbell, PEng. “Recent advances in solar energy and electric utility management have made active solar power a cost-effective investment for property owners. The time was right for us, as New Brunswick’s technology innovators, to show community leadership in the fight to mitigate climate change and become an early adopter of renewable energy.”

Following the energy efficiency pyramid which prioritizes energy conservation and energy efficiency, followed by renewable energy, APEGNB underwent an energy audit to identify areas to reduce the building’s energy usage and improve its energy efficiency. The evaluation found that thanks to a high-performing building envelope and two high-efficiency air source heat pumps, the overall energy use of the building was low in comparison to other similar facilities. The energy audit recommended the installation of programmable thermostats, LED light fixtures, water-efficient faucets and solar panels. Adding a renewable energy source to the building was the natural next step to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs associated with the APEGNB building.

The Association’s members decided to install solar panels and participate in the net metering program. Within a few months, the plan to install sixty 250-Watt solar panels to generate a total capacity of 15 kilowatts was in place. By late June of 2015, the panels were capturing the power of the sun and converting into energy for use at the Association’s office or, when not needed at the office, putting energy on the NB Power grid for other New Brunswick customers.

The total energy production of the solar panels at the APEGNB site is anticipated to be 18,000-19,000 kWh per year. With an annual average energy use of 52,000 Kwh per year, the new solar installation will meet approximately 35% of the electricity needs of the APEGNB building.

Mr. Campbell emphasized that for the Association, success has already been realized through the awareness of renewables raised among the public.

“Many people and environmental groups have applauded our leadership in helping to mitigate climate change. Having the largest solar array in New Brunswick has certainly raised the profile of engineering and geoscience,” he added. “We can say that on the sunniest days, our solar array generates well over 100 kilowatt-hours of energy during a 24-hour period.”

Members of the public can see for themselves how much energy APEGNB’s solar panels generate each day by visiting www.apegnb.com. Read the full case study on APEGNB’s Net Metering project here.

 

 

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