Yukon approves Watson Lake LNG

The Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. will soon burn a mix of natural gas and diesel at its Watson Lake power plant.

The Yukon government has licensed the first liquefied natural gas facility in the territory.

The Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. will soon burn a mix of natural gas and diesel at its Watson Lake power plant.

First, the company must make modifications to the existing diesel generators so it is able to burn the mixed fuel.

The plan is to first modify one generator, and if that goes well, upgrade the remaining five.

The LNG will be trucked in from a plant in Delta, B.C., just south of Vancouver.

Natural gas is cooled to minus-162 C so that can be trucked in liquid state in double-walled cryogenic trailers.

Yukon Electrical expects to bring in one truckload of LNG every 10-14 days during the first phase of the project, and one truck every five days after all of the generators have been retrofitted.

The company must build facilities both to store the LNG and to vaporize it for burning in the generators.

Energy, Mines and Resources has permitted the operations under the condition that Yukon Electrical closely monitor emissions from the plant.

Once the first mixed-fuel generator is up and running, the company will measure contaminants in the air as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

If targets cannot be met, the next phase of the project will not go forward.

There has been a push in recent years to shift towards natural gas power generation in the Yukon.

Natural gas is touted as a cheaper and greener alternative to diesel.

Critics, however, say that natural gas is not cleaner than diesel when you look at the full life-cycle costs, especially when the natural gas is produced though hydraulic fracturing.

Two other proposals to burn LNG are currently before the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.

Yukon Energy plans to replace two aging diesel generators in Whitehorse with ones that burn natural gas.

And Western Copper and Gold Corp. plans to power its giant Casino mine project with a 150-megawatt LNG power plant.

The mine, if it is ever built, would eat up more power than the current generating capacity of all of Yukon’s hydro, diesel and wind plants combined.

It would take 11 LNG trucks per day to power the operations.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com

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