Bringing affordable power to the Canadian North

Bowman charge air coolers and exhaust gas heat exchangers are playing a key part of a co-generation system that has halved electricity costs for a remote Canadian community.

Located in the Northwest Territories of Canada, Fort Providence is a small hamlet of about 800 people, approximately 2,000 km north of the Canada-USA border.  Winters are very cold, with temperatures falling to -40°C, making power and heat highly valued and expensive commodities.  In 24 of 32 communities in the Northwest Territories, electricity is produced using diesel generators. The commercial rate per kilowatt hour ranges between $0.51 and $0.61 CDN, which is four or five times the utility rates in southern Canada. Diesel has to be trucked or sea-lifted long distances from the south, hence the high cost of power.

The Snowshoe Inn is the hub of the Fort Providence community, providing much of its commercial and retail facilities in addition to a bar, restaurant and motel.  It was founded by the Philipp family in 1965 and until 2013, a simple co-generation diesel power plant had provided the required electricity and heat for its operations.

In 2013, working closely with Pratt Diesel in Ottawa – Jeff Philipp oversaw a project to upgrade the co-generation system, replacing the old 120kW/208V diesel gen-sets with three new 150kW/600V state-of-the-art units.

The generators were also modified to recover waste heat by installing Bowman exhaust gas heat exchangers and charge air coolers (Intercoolers) and since commissioning, the new CHP system has delivered huge savings through higher efficiency heat capture.

“The Bowman units are performing extremely well, with at least 60% gain in heat capture due to the massive improvement in efficiency,” says Jeff Philipp. ‘’This is reflected in the reduced need for supplementary heat from a waste oil burner, which has been down sized in capacity from 900,000 BTU to 500,000 BTU. Today, Snowshoe’s amortized cost per kWh is $0.24 compared to $0.51 for commercial grid power, a 52% saving.”

An underground 4’ utilidor distributes both heat and power and in each building the space heating and domestic hot water are provided by the waste heat captured from the co-generation system.  Overall, off-grid energy savings proved to be greater than 50% and the system paid for itself in less than two years.