Belledune power station
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Belledune power station is an operating power station of at least 490-megawatts (MW) in Belledune, Gloucester, New Brunswick, Canada. It is also known as Belledune Generating Station.
Table 1: Project-level location details
|Plant name||Location||Coordinates (WGS 84)|
|Belledune power station||Belledune, Gloucester, New Brunswick, Canada||47.9061, -65.8637 (exact)|
The map below shows the exact location of the power station.
Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):
- Unit 1: 47.9061483, -65.8636708
Table 2: Unit-level details
|Unit name||Status||Fuel(s)||Capacity (MW)||Technology||Start year||Retired year|
|Unit 1||operating||coal - bituminous||490 MW||subcritical||-||-|
Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details
|Unit 1||NB Power Generation Corp||New Brunswick Power Corp|
Construction of the plant began in 1991 and it began generating electricity in 1993. Coal is mostly sourced in the United States and South America but local sources mined at Minto, New Brunswick and Sydney, Nova Scotia have been used on occasion.
The Belledune plant is attractive for shipping as it is situated on the shore of Chaleur Bay adjacent to a ship-unloading pier; Terminal II at the Port of Belledune was built in 1991-1992 by the Canada Ports Corporation as part of the Belledune Generating Station project. Terminal II has a 307 metre long wharf with a 28 metre wide apron and depth alongside of 15.9 metres, thus capable of handling up to Capesize vessels of 100,000 DWT. An automated coal continuous ship unloader moves coal at 1750 metric tonnes per hour to stockpiles adjacent to the plant.
As part of the project, the Belledune River was dammed in the early 1990s to create a reservoir approximately 4 km upstream from its discharge point into Chaleur Bay. This reservoir is visible from New Brunswick Route 11 which was built on a new right of way that crosses the southern part of this reservoir, opening in the early 1990s. The construction of the Belledune Generating Station also resulted in the realignment of a 3-km section of local road New Brunswick Route 134.
The plant consumes approximately 1 million tons of coal per year, and currently generates approximately fifteen percent of the province's electricity, while producing roughly thirty percent of the province's air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (among large industrial polluters).
In October 2009 the provincial government announced that it had reached an agreement with Hydro Quebec to sell NB Power to that company. The sale was not completed. The initial memorandum of understanding would have seen NB Power transfer all of its generating assets except for the thermal stations at Dalhousie Generating Station|Dalhousie, Belledune and Coleson Cove Generating Station|Coleson Cove.
The sale of NB Power to Hydro Quebec was canceled in spring 2010, presumably sparing the Belledune Generating Station from any major changes to its operation.
Hydrogen conversion and other possible fuels
In February 2019, it was reported that NB Power was involved in a CAD $13 million deal with American company Joi Scientific to develop hydrogen fuel technology that could be used to replace coal at Belledune. In November 2019 NB Power officials conceded that Joi's technology did not work as promised and did not seem to be viable as an alternate fuel source for Belledune.
In August 2022, the port of Belledune signed an agreement with the port of Wilhelmshaven in Germany to move towards hydrogen sales from the proposed plant in Europe. However, it was noted that the hydrogen plant's use of nuclear energy may be a dealbreaker for sales in Germany. A representative from Environment Action Germany described the possibility as "unacceptable" and stated that the government would likely oppose the move as well.
In January and February 2023, it was reported that NB Power was also considering torrefied biomass (biomass processed into dense, solid shapes) as an alternative fuel for the power station, and would test it at Belledune in March 2024.
The Belledune Power Station's design would allow it to continue operating until 2040. However, under Canada's federal climate plan, all coal-fired electricity must be phased out by 2030, which means Belledune would need to close a decade earlier than originally planned. In July 2021 the government of New Brunswick submitted a plan to the national government to keep the plant burning coal during winter months through 2040, instead of retiring in 2030. In November 2021 the office of Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault stated that it would not sign an equivalency agreement allowing the plant to burn coal beyond 2030.
Articles and Resources
- FACILITY PROFILE - New Brunswick Power Corporation for the Belledune Thermal Generating Station, Prepared by: Industrial Processes Section, Impact Management Branch Department of Environment and Local Government. September 2014
- Learn About Electricity, NB Power, accessed May 2019
- ghgregistries.ca ghgregistries.ca, Jun. 12, 2011
- NB Power Licenses Mystery Tech to Build a Hydrogen-Powered Electricity Grid, Green Tech Media, Mar. 14, 2019
- Ode to Joi: The untold story of NB Power's deal with a Florida hydrogen startup, CBC, Nov. 19, 2019
- N.B.'s nuclear power could complicate Belledune's hydrogen sales, CBC, Aug. 25, 2022
- "New Brunswick banking on nuclear, Atlantic Loop to meet power needs after coal phase-out," Global News, January 18, 2023
- "New Brunswick's energy puzzle comes into focus at climate committee meetings," CBC, February 24, 2023
- Jacques Poitras, Countdown to obsolescence: A look inside the Belledune coal-fired plant, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Aug 20, 2018
- New Brunswick can't meet 2030 deadline for coal phaseout, minister says, CBC, Jul. 21, 2021
- No extension past 2030 for Belledune coal-fired power plant, Ottawa says, CBC, Nov. 25, 2021
To access additional data, including an interactive map of coal-fired power stations, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.