JULY 2021 - CALGARY, AB: Across Southern Alberta, road construction often requires the use of portable crushers and washplants to provide road base - a critical element of long lasting and high quality roadways. Typically, portable equipment requires the use of generators for power. The majority of these plants use diesel powered generators, accompanied by concerns around noise, cost, maintenance, and emissions.
In spite of their solution as reliable sources of energy, diesel generators come with challenges: initial cost can be significant, older models require frequent maintenance, diesel fuel prices are increasing, residential neighbors complain about noise, and diesel fuel is a major contributor to air pollution. In Calgary, the aggregates team knew there had to be a better way.
Showcasing their innovative leadership, the Calgary Aggregates team seized the opportunity to trial new natural gas generators. Natural gas generators are becoming the preferred solution in many applications, as they provide longer run times, fewer emissions compared to diesel and are lower maintenance than traditional generators. As well, natural gas is currently one of the most affordable and effective fuels among non-renewable resources for power generation, and burns cleaner, with little to no noise pollution and reduced odor compared to diesel fuels.
Natural gas is also easily transportable, and can be provided to rural sites using large 53' foot trailers containing multiple tanks of compressed natural gas. Another bonus: natural gas eliminates onsite storage of liquid diesel fuels, further reducing environmental liability. For Bob Spence, VPGM of Southern Alberta, it was well worth consideration. "We are continually seeking ways to be better," he explains. "Our team isn't afraid to push the limits and challenge ourselves to step away from outdated technologies."
The results from the trial were incredibly encouraging, with a 40% cost reduction due to lower volumes of fuel and the reduced cost per unit of natural gas. As well, the trialing plant reported reduced GHG emissions and zero noise complaints from local residents. "Testing out new ideas is essential for our success," shares Spence. "Thinking outside the box is the best way for us to build."