Toronto Airport Opens Major Cogeneration Plant

December 04, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

In conjunction with its 9th anniversary, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) announced the opening of its new cogeneration plant. The plant will ensure the uninterrupted flow of electrical power to Toronto Pearson International Airport. The cogeneration plant is expected to provide many operational benefits to Canada’s busiest airport, including both the establishment of defined energy costs, as well as the self-sustainability that comes from proprietary power.

"Our first responsibility as managers and operators of Toronto Pearson is to ensure the safety of our tenants and passengers. With shortages in the provincial electrical supply forecast for as early as 2006, being able to guarantee a stable supply of power to the airport was the driving force behind our decision to construct the cogeneration plant," says John Kaldeway, President and CEO of the GTAA.

Cogeneration, the production of electrical power and thermal energy at the same time from the same energy source, has many positive environmental implications, both with its inherent efficiency as well as its use of natural gas as fuel.

"Natural gas fueled cogeneration plants are considered to be clean energy," says Brian Lackey, Vice-President of Operations and Chief Engineer, adding, "while the cogeneration technology isn’t new, the GTAA’s plant will be the first of its kind at an airport in Canada."

Capable of producing about 117MW of power in total, operation of the cogeneration plant follows these steps: Natural gas fuels two General Electric LM6000 PD gas turbines in the plant, each producing around 42 megawatts of power, The exhaust from these is used to operate “once through steam generators,” which will in turn feed a steam-driven generator capable of producing some 33MW of power, And the remaining excess heat from the plant is used to heat and cool the airport buildings through the central utilities distribution system.

Currently the airport’s peak electrical demand is about 38MW of electricity. This is expected to peak at 65 to 70 MW in 2015. The surplus electricity produced by the cogeneration plant that is not required to operate the airport is being sold back into Ontario’s power grid, via the Clean Energy Supply contract between the GTAA and the Ontario Power Authority. In addition to its environmental benefits, the plant will help the province to enhance the electricity supply in the Greater Toronto Area.