Muskrat Falls Project-A Critical Review

Elsaraf, Hashem (2020) Muskrat Falls Project-A Critical Review. Research Report. Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. (Submitted)

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The Muskrat falls hydroelectric project in Newfoundland and Labrador is an 824 MW hydroelectric facility and over 1600 km of transmission lines across the province including a maritime link between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. It has important benefits for the province such as connecting it to the North American electricity market, increasing employment for local labor, CO2 emissions reduction, and making the province’s electricity 98% renewable. However, the project has faced many issues such as economic, temporal, political and environmental problems. In this article, a study is presented which highlights the different aspects of this project and the process involved in its assessment and implementation. Environmental and economic issues related to Methyl mercury, impact of COVID -19 pandemic, impact of oil prices and the contribution of the hiding hand principle to the project’s development were addressed. From an engineering perspective and to expand on the wind alternative, original work designing a wind project of similar generation capacity to Muskrat Falls (4.9 TWh) is presented. Using a multifactorial wind farm sitting approach, four sites for possible wind energy deployment were selected which are: Portugal Cove, Bonavista, Grand Banks and Saint Bride’s. Through a review of the most prominent wind farms inside and outside Canada, five types of wind turbines were selected for the study which are GE-2.5 XL, Vestas 164, Enercon E-126, GE 1.5s and Siemens SWT 3.6. A parametric study of 36 systems was then conducted to test each turbine model at each location at different hub heights. The study included both financial (LCOE, Profit) and area (Energy density, Profit/Area) considerations. After careful comparison, Bonavista wind site with Enercon-126 wind turbine at 135 m hub height was justifiably the best system. The system is then further developed by adding ACS880 inverter from ABB (for power conditioning and HVDC transmission) and reporting on the final system values (4.83 TWh energy production, 884 million USD profit and 3.06 million tons of CO2 emissions curtailed per year). Finally, a gravity energy storage system is roughly calculated in order to make the wind farm as dispatchable as Muskrat Falls which increased the system cost to 4.33 billion CAD.

Item Type: Report (Research Report)
Item ID: 14917
Additional Information: Paper for Engineering 9853: Energy Economics and Policy
Keywords: Muskrat Falls, Hydroelectric Projects, Methyl Mercury, Nalcor Energy, Newfoundland and Labrador, Wind Energy, Gravity Energy Storage
Department(s): Engineering and Applied Science, Faculty of
Date: 2020
Date Type: Submission
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