The North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) has approved the construction and operation of a new state of the art, Cogeneration Power Plant. This project is a partnership with North Bay Hydro Services, North Bay Hydro Distribution Ltd., Plenary Group and Johnson Controls. The health centre will own the facility and North Bay Hydro Services will design and operate it.
The Cogeneration concept has been in the proposal stage for approximately four (4) years and was recently passed by the NBRHC Board of Directors. This $6M plant will operate for more than 20 years and construction is expected to be completed in the fall of 2015.
Due to the partnership with North Bay Hydro, the project is eligible for $2.4M in incentives through North Bay Hydro’s conservation programs…a significant rebate towards the overall project, not to mention the long term efficiency benefits of an operation of this type.
Cogeneration is using one fuel (Natural Gas) to produce 2 outputs – electricity and water. Natural gas is burnt in a large engine, which spins a generator, producing electricity. Heat is recovered from the engine, for free, which is used to help meet the hot water needs of the hospital, such as space heating, hot water for cooking and cleaning, etc.
To put into perspective the magnitude of this project, energy from this plant has the ability to generate enough electricity and heat to supply the energy needs of 1350 homes per year. Its overall efficiency is excellent as it operates at about 85-90% efficiency range, whereas, electricity from a Nuclear Plant, is around 30-40%.
The benefits to NBRHC include more back up power during emergencies, stable and cheaper utility costs as well as new, state of the art infrastructure which will extend the life of existing systems. In recent emergencies, such as the Toronto ice storm, key operations at many hospitals were in jeopardy and had to be closed down. With this new power plant, such events would not hinder the overall operation of the health centre as the plant will have the ability to meet 85% of its power needs. Under the current structure, it can only provide up to 40%.