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TransAlta to convert its Canadian coal-fired plants to gas by yearend 2021

November 05, 2020


TransAlta will end operations at Highvale thermal coal mine by the end of 2021 as it switches to natural gas at all of its coal-fired plants in Canada. The announcement brings with it hundreds of job losses and comes four years earlier than TransAlta originally planned.

The percentage of power in Alberta generated from coal has fallen from more than 80 per cent in the 1980s to less than one-third now, partly due to rising provincial government prices on carbon that began in 2007.

Coal power profitability is becoming less attractive as the costs of renewable power fall, said Binnu Jeyakumar, the Pembina Institute’s director of clean energy. “It’s good news for (greenhouse gas) reduction and the health of Albertans to have coal being phased out earlier,” Jeyakumar said.

Jeyakumar cautioned that converted coal plants are unlikely to be as efficient as new natural gas-powered plants, and that emissions from the production and transportation of gas present an ongoing GHG risk.

TransAlta said it will stop burning coal in its Keephills Unit 1 and Sundance Unit 4 plants, which will operate at lower capacity with natural gas, while it evaluates full conversion projects. The company will still produce power from coal at its Centralia facility in Washington state, which has a transition agreement allowing it to burn coal until its end of life in 2025, [TransAlta CEO Dawn] Farrell said.

[Andrew Jeffrey]

More: Hundreds of coal mining jobs to end as TransAlta switches to natural gas

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