Industry-leading MRU and ATCO co-gen partnership cuts greenhouse gas emissions and reduces costs

On Thursday, Mount Royal University will unveil a combined heating and power (CHP) unit that will decrease the University's greenhouse gas emissions by 2,000 tonnes (equivalent to taking 425 vehicles off the road for a year) and, when combined with central plant upgrades, save $700,000 a year.

ATCO and MRU partnered on the $2.4 million project, with funding of $800,000 from Emissions Reduction Alberta, and additional provincial grants totalling a further $800,000.The balance was funded by the University. ATCO began construction in November 2017, with commissioning of the unit done in June 2018.

"Through Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), our government is proud to support innovative projects like the Combined Heat and Power system at Mount Royal University.This is the largest installation of its kind, supporting sustainable electricity generation and emissions reductions right on campus," said Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks and Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office. "This inventive partnership between MRU, ATCO and ERA will lead the way for other large facilities and institutions to follow suit. As always, Albertans are the source of energy efficiency innovations and we are proud to support this made-in-Alberta project."

The CHP unit will save Mount Royal $400,000 a year. Upgrades to the University's central plant, which were required to capture the full benefits of the CHP, will save an additional $300,000 per year, for a total annual savings of $700,000. "ATCO is proud to partner with Mount Royal University on their sustainability efforts and the significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as part of this industry-leading project," said Craig Hawryschuk, Director, Business Development and Sales, with ATCO's Pipelines & Liquids Global Business Unit.

The unit powers MRU's central plant and provides up to 26 per cent of the University's electricity. One per cent now comes from recently installed solar panels. Mount Royal is working towards a time when it is fully off the grid and generates 100 per cent of its electricity on site with CHP and solar-power units. In addition to cost savings and emissions reductions, Mount Royal will be better able to continue to operate in the event of a major power outage in the city.

CHP is 30 per cent more energy efficient than conventional electricity production because it uses natural gas to produce both heat and electricity. Natural gas is considered to have the smallest carbon footprint of all the fossil fuels. The 'waste heat' that is produced as a result of the generation of electricity is captured and routed into the central HVAC system to provide heat and hot water throughout campus.

"With the engineering behind it and configuring the integration between the CHP and the central plant, we're leading the way in 'smart' buildings and how all systems work together, both with solar power and now co-generation," said Grant Sommerfeld, Associate vice-president, facilities management at Mount Royal.

"We started with solar power and one CHP to gain experience with the expectation that we would grow the program. Ultimately we'd like to strategically incorporate more co-gen units across campus to produce 100 per cent of our own electricity."

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