Cogeneration Sparks Apartment Sector Interest

New micro CHP systems make off-grid power a viable option for residential building owners


Tuesday, February 23, 2016
By Erin Ruddy

Cogeneration in Canada is no longer just for hospitals and industrial facilities—multi-residential property owners are beginning to take note of this energy savings technology too. Defined as “the simultaneous production of electrical and thermal energy from a single fuel source,” cogeneration is a reliable way to produce power while redirecting ‘waste heat’ back into the building as useful energy.

Though Europe has been a widespread user of CHP (Combined Heat and Power) for decades, grid limitations and rising energy costs here in Canada are prompting residential building owners to expand their options and look at alternative energy savings solutions. CHP is emerging as a viable option.

Advancements in technology have made cogeneration more accessible for most properties. There are now small-scale solutions that can follow the thermal loads, meaning even buildings with as few as 50 suites could be suitable for a CHP system.

Right now in Canada, seven per cent of electricity is produced using cogeneration. Alberta has the largest capacity, with the majority going to serve the oil and gas industry. Ontario is the second largest producer, serving a broader range of industries—from manufacturing, forest and hospitals to universities and entertainment complexes.

But implementation continues to expand. Aside from increased efficiency, reduced greenhouse gas emissions (compared to traditional separate heat and power production), and significant cost savings for users, CHP also promises improved security of supply as it reduces the risk of consumers being left without electricity during power outages.

Under normal operating conditions, a CHP plant generates electricity behind the meter, matching the thermal load of a facility drawing some power from the grid. But during emergency situations when grid power is not available, a CHP system can operate as an electrical island to power essential requirements, like elevators, lighting, heating, ventilation, and hot and cold water distribution equipment.

It is a proven, reliable technology. It can be installed on your rooftop, in your garage or somewhere else on the property. Once the equipment is up and running, your building’s Net Present Value increases as your energy reduces. Systems have a long lifespan of 20 to 25 years, and thanks to predictive maintenance, the equipment is straightforward to operate.

Reducing consumption at a property is the most effective way to hedge against rising energy costs. CHP offers a new solution that complements other energy conservation initiatives. It allows property owners to generate cost-effective, on-site power, and the by-product is hot water that is reclaimed and used for a multitude of heating purposes. The potential islanding if the grid goes down is also a bonus. It’s a solution many residential building owners will be seriously looking at.


Erin Ruddy is the editor of Canadian Apartment Magazine


Seniors complex in Hazeldean ready for construction


EDMONTON – A long-delayed 264-unit seniors complex with geo-thermal heating is finally going ahead in Hazeldean, says the developer.

Greg Christenson asked city council for parking changes in the site zoning Tuesday, and said he hopes to start drilling for the heating systems this spring.

The senior’s project first got council approval in 2007, after a contentious multi-year battle with community residents. “Then the market died,” said Christenson, president of the Edmonton-based Christenson Developments.

Difficulties changing the zoning and community opposition “created sufficient delay to miss a market opportunity.”

The neighbourhood has a higher than average percentage of retirees, many of whom may be interested to move into seniors housing in their own community if this project can be built on time, said Christenson.

The project would redevelop a 5.7 hectare townhouse site near 65th Avenue and 96th Street, building up to five apartment towers for seniors homes and for assisted living among the remaining townhouses.

The complex will be fuelled by a $2.4-million natural gas, cogeneration and geothermal system. Christenson received a federal matching grant for the energy system, and has committed to finishing the three buildings in the first phase by March 2014.

Parking changes approved Tuesday eliminated 30 of the planned 302 underground parking stalls and added 83 stalls to the 178 planned above ground.

Landlord Bruce MacPherson was the only person to speak against the project.

He brought a house to rent out across 94th Street from the project shortly after the original plans were announced. The new plans would replace the townhouse he expected with a parking lot instead.

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© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

2012 QUEST Community Energy Builder Award

The Winner of the 2012 QUEST Community Energy Builder Award is:

Christenson Equities Ltd., for its comprehensive plans to redevelop the Southwoods community in Edmonton, Alberta, increasing density and integrating energy using Combined Heat & Power generation, borehole thermal energy storage, and a micro smart grid power system.


 Photo: Bruce MacFarlane accepts the 2012 QUEST Community Energy Builder Award on behalf of Christensen Equities Ltd. from QUEST Board of Directors, Michael Harcourt and Patricia Newson.

Congratulations to the other Finalists:

Municipality of Ritchot, Manitoba, for its completed Ile-Des-Chenes project which includes a new 30,000 sq. ft. LEED Silver Community Centre and a district geothermal heat pump system that interconnects the facility’s three buildings.

The City of Surrey, for its plans to install the largest Organics Biofuel Facility in Canada which will produce renewable natural gas from city waste and use it to fuel the municipality’s vehicle fleet, in addition to a number of district energy projects.

The Winner of the 2012 QUEST Community Energy Builder Award was announced at the QUEST GALA Dinner & Awards Ceremony, November 20, at Manitoba Hydro Place in Winnipeg.

TEC Edmonton client GSS Geothermal a partner with Christenson Devlopments in new-technology neighborhood power and heating plant.

Posted in Oil & Gas, TEC Edmotnon Companies by TEC EdmontonJune, 2012

TEC Edmonton client GSS Geothermal is partnering with Christenson Developments in a ground-breaking pilot project to build a mini-power plant that will provide both electricity and heating for a renovated townhouse and new apartment building complex in Hazeldean, close to Mill Creek Ravine at 96 Street and 67 Avenue in Edmonton.

As reported in the Global Edmonton TV news report “Edmonton company receives $1.2 million to build ground-breaking project” the federal government is treating the on-site power and district heat concept as a pilot project. Half its $2.4 million capital costs will be covered by Ottawa’s Clean Energy Fund.

The mini-power plant will provide electricity, and usually wasted heat will be channelled into a geo-thermal heat-retaining underground system, to be drawn back out in the winter months to heat the homes.

TEC Edmonton is assisting GSS Geothermal in a marketing study for its advanced geo-thermal technology.

Minister Oliver Highlights the Federal Government’s Contribution to Alberta’s Economy

Natural Resources Canada – May 25, 2012

SHERWOOD PARK, ALBERTA – The Honorable Joe Oliver, Minster of Natural Resources, addressed the Alberta Chambers of Commerce to discuss the impact of Responsible Resource Development in Alberta and communities across the country.

“Our government is focused on opportunities – opportunities for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity,” says Minister Oliver. “The plan for Responsible Resources Development will make our project review process more effective, efficient, timely and predictable, while ensuring rigorous, world-class environmental protection.”

Minister Oliver added that the economic impacts of the energy industry are felt in every region across Canada. “Everywhere I go, I talk about the difference our resource industries make in the lives of Canadians every day, in every town and city and rural community in the country. It’s essential that we all understand just how important these industries are to maintaining the tremendous quality of life we enjoy in this country,” says the Minister.

As part of Economic Action Plan 2012, the Government introduced Responsible Resource Development (RRD) to modernize Canada’s federal regulatory regime to attract investment, create jobs, build long-term prosperity and encourage national competitiveness. In doing so, the Government of Canada will continue to focus on the environment and clean energy initiatives across the country.

“In February this year, Premier Redford and I signed a MOU that will bring our cooperation on oil sands research to a whole new level,” says Minister Oliver. “We are working with the province to bring government, industry, academia and other research organizations together in a cluster of expertise to support excellence in innovation and the responsible development of the oil sands.”

The Minister also took the opportunity to meet with Premier Redford to discuss responsible resources development and its benefits for Alberta and to announce more than $1.2 million in funding for the Edmonton-based Christenson Developments Ltd. From the Market Development Incentive Payments Fund and the Clean Energy Fund.

“We and our energy partners look forward to teaming with NRCan to improve the sustainability of our 19-acre townhouse community in the established neighborhood of Hazeldean,” says Greg Christenson, President, Christenson Developments Ltd. “This will fun a natural gas-fuelled, co-generation and geothermal system designed to reduce utility costs for seniors and working families.”

The company will demonstrate the use of natural gas to provide both heat and power to half of an existing 236-unit townhouse community.

Edmonton company receives $1.2M to build groundbreaking project

Patricia Kozicka, Global News: Friday, May 25, 2012

EDMONTON – The federal government is helping fund a ‘green’ project in Edmonton which will be the first of its kind in Canada. It’s a natural gas plant that will be used not only to create electricity, but also to heat a housing complex being redeveloped in the Hazeldean neighborhood near 96 St. and 67 Ave.

The way the plant will work is by burning natural gas to creative electricity. Excess heat created from the process will then be pumped into the ground, and, eventually, drawn back out to keep the homes warm in the wintertime.

“So effectively, you replace bringing power through overhead power lines and you replace coal-burning power plants, and you actually reduce both the power and heating bills… the real challenge is the up-front cost,” explains Greg Christenson of Christenson Developments – the company behind the project.

Thankfully for Christiensen, that’s where the federal government has come in. On Friday, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced half the project’s $2.4 million dollar cost will be covered through the federal clean energy fund.

It’s a contribution Christenson says is very important to making the project a reality.

“It’s difficult to put $2.4 million into your budget (upfront) and explain that your utility cost may be lower,” Christenson says.

He believes the “natural gas-fuelled, co-generation and geothermal system” will be able to cut monthly utility bills by about 40 percent – making living more affordable for residents.

And the timing couldn’t be better.

“Power rates have historically been very high in Alberta. Natural gas rates are very low so it’s sort of a perfect storm for this type of technology,” Christenson says.

Mike Roppelt of GSS Geothermal is the one designing the heating plant, for which he has high hopes.

“There’s going to be a lot of study looking at the ability to replicate this be it a single family home or in the higher density homes,” he says.

Construction on the housing redevelopment project is supposed to be finished by early 2015.

With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News

Geo E Consulting becomes Capstone finalist, working with Ground Source Soultions

A Captstone Project is a major applied research projects that brings together all of the knowledge and skills acquired during the BTech program. Student teams work with industry sponsors to solve real-world challenges.

As these projects are a key part of providing grads with the dynamic, multi-faceted skills that industry needs, each BTech student must complete a Capstone Project in order to graduate.

2011 Capstone Award Finalists