General Motors of Canada is proposing to build a 6.4 megawatt co-generation plant that will use renewable landfill gas as fuel to generate electricity for its St. Catharines propulsion plant and offset what it calls uncompetitive energy costs in Ontario.
The power plant will also recover thermal energy to power and heat the factory, which builds V6 and V8 engines and transmissions.
“If you put a list of areas of competitiveness that are most challenging in Ontario for manufacturing, electricity costs are clearly there. Anything we can do to reduce electricity costs is something that will make our plants more competitive,” David Paterson, GM Canada’s vice-president of corporate and environmental affairs, told Automotive News Canada. “Anything that improves your competitive is a really good thing. Reducing energy costs enhances your competitiveness.”
The project is a partnership between GM, Alectra Utilities, Integrated Gas Recovery Services and the TargetGHG program, funded by by the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science.
It’s a C$46.8 million ($37 million) project and Paterson says GM is paying about C$10 million ($7.7 million) worth of the total. The Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science didn't immediately return calls and emails.
Paterson said “minor approvals” still needed before construction starts.
Minister Reza Moridi said in a news release that helping large industries reduce greenhouse gas emissions is part of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan.
The proposed project will reduce net greenhouse gas emissions at the plant by an estimated 77 percent and lower energy electrical costs.
“The win on this is the 77 percent reduction in greenhouses but there is also a considerable longterm saving in electricity costs and, as you know, in Ontario electricity costs are not competitive,” Paterson said.
For competitive reasons, Paterson wouldn’t say how much money the company will save by drawing its energy from the power plant.
Once online in mid-2019, clean energy will power about 32 percent of the St. Catharines’ plant -- the most of any of GM’s global population operations worldwide, the automaker said.
Paterson said costs associated with the Paris Accord and Ontario’s new cap-and-trade policy are also a concern.
“With cap and trade, if you are not able to continually reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, you’re going to be paying,” Paterson said. “This allows us to make a significant cut in energy costs and a very significant cut in greenhouse gases.”
GM has committed to power all of its global operations’ electricity with 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.