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Coal to Gas Conversions Project

Clean, Reliable and Affordable Electricity

As part of TransAlta’s transition to clean power, we intend to convert up to seven of our coal-fired generating units to natural gas at the Keephills and Sundance power plants.

TransAlta is submitting amendment applications to the Alberta Utilities Commission and Alberta Environment and Parks for approval to initiate the conversions starting with preparatory work in 2019 and unit conversions as early as 2020.

Why do we need this project?

In Alberta, by 2030, one-third of the electricity currently provided by coal-fired generators is to come from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydro while transitioning the remaining two-thirds of generation to natural gas. As a leader in clean energy, TransAlta is making that transition by converting the fuel source for our generators and using the sites to continue to provide Albertans with clean, reliable and affordable electricity.

How does coal-to-gas conversion work?

The existing generation units at Keephills and Sundance use both coal and natural gas to produce electricity. Natural gas is already used to start up the units and can be used to produce up to approximately 30 per cent of the generation at each facility.

To convert the units to natural gas, existing equipment will need to be modified, such as the boilers, fans and control systems. In addition, new equipment will be installed including: natural-gas burners, igniters, scanners, piping and valves; while coal-handling equipment will be retired, cleaned and stored in place.

Anticipated timelines

TransAlta intends to file amendment applications with the Alberta Utilities Commission and Alberta Environment and Parks in the summer of 2018. Once submitted, there will be a period of regulatory review of the project which includes public notification. If the applications are approved, TransAlta could begin preparatory installation work in 2019. The proposed conversions would be staged over a two to three-year period, starting as early as 2020 and ending in 2022.