Market Snapshot: Alberta cogeneration capacity has grown significantly in the last 15 years, led by oil sands projects

Release date: 2016-08-18

Cogeneration is the simultaneous production of heat and electricity. Cogeneration allows for up to 92 % efficiency compared to about 57 % and 40 % efficiency for traditional combined cycle and single cycle plants, respectively.Footnote 1 This increase in efficiency and reduction in fuel use lowers energy production costs and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2015, Canada had approximately 9 500 megawatts (MW) of installed cogeneration electric capacity.Footnote 2 The province with the most capacity is Alberta, which has 32 industrial cogeneration facilities with an installed electric capacity of 4 528 MW. Of this total, 3 343 MW is used in the oil sands,Footnote 3 942 MW is used in petrochemical operations, and 243 MW is used by utilities and other operations. As oil sands production increased from 0.59 million barrels per day (MMb/d) in 2000 to 2.38 MMb/d in 2015, so did cogeneration electric capacity, growing from 1 813 MW in 2000 to 4 528 MW in 2015. The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) expects cogeneration capacity in Alberta to increase in tandem with oil sands production, rising to 5 353 MW by 2022.Footnote 4

Source and Description

Sources: NEB and Alberta Utilities Commission

Description: This graph shows the simultaneous increase in cogeneration capacity and bitumen production in Alberta between 2000 and 2015. In 2000, cogeneration electric capacity was 1 813 MW and bitumen production was 0.59 MMb/d. By the end of 2015, cogeneration electric capacity was over 4 528 MW and bitumen production was 2.38 MMb/d.

Cogeneration is also used in other provinces, primarily Ontario and B.C., where installed electric capacity in 2014 was 2 563 MW and 812 MW, respectively. Cogeneration in these and other provinces is most commonly produced by utilities and paper and wood products manufacturers.

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