An energy development company couldn’t get any “greener” than EDF Energies Nouvelles. The operation not only focuses on renewable energy resources but it respects the environment in which it operates. If the endangered Bicknell’s Thrush – a bird with a long beak and large bright eyes – could talk instead of chirp, it would certainly express appreciation for the measures the company takes to protect its rapidly decreasing habitat. Rather than accelerate this bird species’ disappearance from a world that would be diminished by it loss, EDF EN goes to great lengths to protect its survival – even if it means shifting a project into different terrain, and even if that translates into extra cost and complicating the already complex project logistics. It never forgets that it needs to act as a responsible environmental steward.
EDF EN, a renewable energy development company, is engaged in some of the largest energy related projects. It has a strong track record when it comes to financing, on-time/onbudget project completion, strategic supply agreements for wind turbines and solar panels, and overall project coordination. It gets involved in the origination, construction, implementation, electricity generation, operation and maintenance.
It resides in a nation that embraces renewable energy resources. Canada’s fervency should serve as an example for countries that seem indifferent, even callous, to ecological issues. Based in Toronto, and with offices in Montreal, EDF EN operates as a subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles S.A.
FARMING WIND ENERGY – AND MORE
Since 2008, when it made its presence known through job bids – particularly with Hydro-Quebec, the government-owned public utility – EDF EN proved itself a resourceful and innovative market leader in renewable energy development. This company doesn’t need a weatherman to tell it which way the wind blows.
“In our region, wind energy is a nice complementary resource to hydropower,” says David Gallagher, a company program manager who is involved in some of EDF EN’s major efforts. “More than 90 percent of electricity generated in Quebec is hydropower – and it makes a great match with wind because when it is windy, you can store water in your reservoirs when you need to use less hydropower. It’s a good match, and the government is committed to wind to support hydroelectricity.”
Wind energy is the company’s major focus – but that’s not all. “Anything that is renewable is of interest to us, and this includes hydro and solar power, as well as biomasse,” says Gallagher.
Moreover, its strongly focused interest directs it toward market opportunities and, in turn, a business approach that enables it to seize opportunity. EDF EN developed an integrated approach that rapidly transformed it into a renewable energy market leader. Its approach carries it from a project’s beginning to end. “We cover every element, every step,” relates Gallagher. “Our service range is vast, and that separates us from similar companies. We’re there at project origination, which means that we’re actively involved in project development. Next, we’re directly involved in implementation.”
From there it carries into operation, and EDF EN assumes a “good neighbor” role. “Communities we serve welcome us as a neighbor,” says Gallagher. “Some similar companies have a build and sell approach. After they set up operations, they’re gone. Conversely, we become part of any community we enter, and we’re ready to make the 20-year commitment. We’re there from beginning to end. We don’t build and then disappear. It’s more than just about setting up operations. We realize that when we enter communities, we need – and we want – to become a viable and responsible member.”
Approach is underscored by recent projects. Take for instance the 80-megawatt Saint-Robert-Bellarmin wind project, which represents a $200 million investment. This “greener” energy resource is envisioned to vitalize as many as 20,000 Quebec homes with clean power. Commercial operation will be realized as soon as 2012. But the project is not only an energy generator – it’s a job generator, in a region that could use a bit of economic stimulation. We’re talking about at least 100 construction-related jobs as well as new and permanent jobs related to operations and maintenance.
It began in August 2011, says Gallagher, who is managing the project. The effort has proceeded steadily. “By December 2011, we erected five turbines,” he reports.
Work so far has fostered a learning curve. “The placement of the five turbines helped us understand what transportation will entail, and we resolved some of the other minor glitches,” says Gallagher. But glitches – and issues – weren’t too cumbersome. “Pre-commissioning has been accomplished, and that helped the turbine supplier [REpower] to get a better grasp on a new kind of project, as this involved a new kind of turbine – the first cold-climate package turbine that it’s delivering and assembling in great number.”
Besides turbine manufacturer REpower, entities involved in this project LM Wind, which will supply wind blades; Marmen that supply the towers; SEG Woodward, which will contribute electrical convertors, and Borea Construction, which is the general contractor.
Another project that EDF EN is involved in is the 150-megawatt Massif du Sud wind project, which is also being managed by Gallagher. “In mid-September 2011, we obtained the ‘Decree’ from the Government of Quebec,” he says. “Construction started in November. It’s a good example of how wind energy and complex terrain go hand in hand.”
It’s proceeding, but not yet at full throttle. “It’s ongoing, but on a reduced scale. We’re trying to get as much done as possible and as cost effectively during the winter. We’re a bit lucky, as the 2012 winter has been mild, relatively speaking. Snowfall has only been about three meters. Usually it’s around six meters.”
The project is where consideration for the birds came in. “To protect the optimal Bicknell’s Thrush habitat, we removed 22 turbines to make sure we weren’t infringing,” reveals Gallagher. “In addition we respected the integrity of river crossings and wetlands. The government requires that we respect all of the regional environmental conditions, and that is what we have been doing.”
This $350-million project is located in the municipalities of Saint-Luc-de-Bellechasse and Saint-Magloire in the MRC des Etchemins and in the municipalities of Notre-Dame-Auxiliatrice-de-Buckland and Saint-Philemon in the MRC de Bellechasse, and it will generate energy for more than 30,000 Quebec homes. Like the other project, this will create construction jobs and permanent operation and maintenance jobs. REpower is also involved in this project – it will supply 75 wind turbines – as are LM Wind Power, Marmen and SEG Woodward.
One more project – but not one of Gallagher’s – is the $330-million, 300-megawatt Lac Alfred wind project in Quebec. EDF EN is collaborating with the Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. The project will consist of 150 wind turbines supplied by REpower. The first-phase construction began in June 2011 and is expected to be finished in December 2012. The second phase is expected to be completed in December 2013. When operational, the project will generate enough clean electricity to meet the needs of about 70,000 homes. Its operation and maintenance affiliate, enXco Service Canada Inc., will provide long-term operations and maintenance services. Hydro-Quebec will buy the power under a 20-year power purchase agreement and construct the 30-kilometer transmission line to connect the project to the grid under an interconnection agreement. Like this aforementioned projects, this one will also be a job generator in the community.
“By June, we should have the three projects under construction, all at the same time,” says Gallagher. “We’re anticipating that everything will go smoothly.”
One of its main suppliers is BPR, and this connection represents a truly collaborative relationship, indicates Steve Olsen, a BPR electrical engineer possessing nearly 20 years’ experience in the field of power transmission and distribution. A specialist in medium- and high-voltage substation design and engineering, Olsen has made contributions to many power grid studies and lent his expertise to many successful projects.
“In our relationship with EDF-EN, we do detailed engineering and construction related to wind farms,” says Olsen, who is associated with an enterprise that has more than 2,000 employees and that works in the transportation, construction and energy markets. “In the energy sector, BPR focuses on wind energy, hydroelectric projects, and nuclear and solar energy projects,” he informs. “With EDF-EN, on a project basis, we collaborate to develop the most innovative solutions that reduce costs and, in turn, make both companies attractive.”
Further, the relationship indicates how EDF-EN fosters the best engineering and marketing support. As Olsen indicates, the partnership leads to the creation of revolutionary technology in a world that needs new energy options – wind and solar, for instance.
Such support leads to creation of the best and most innovative solutions. At the same time, BPR is a cost-conscious enterprise. “In our relationship with EDN-EF, we minimize costs, and we also foster operational flexibility by understanding specific needs,” says Olsen. “So, it is a multi-faceted relationship, where both entities know what’s needed.”
So, it is a symbiotic relationship, one that Olsen understates as interesting. “Different projects have different needs, and such needs are met by our collaboration,” he says.
This positions EDF-EN in a very good place. In Canada, wind power is experiencing strong growth, with forecasts of a six-fold increase in generation. By 2020, wind energy could generate as much as 10 percent of total installed power capacity. Further, other renewable energy technologies are also growing fast: solar, tidal, biomass, landfill gas and waste heat energy are estimated to see a combined total of 139-percent increase in projected energy production within the next decade. And EDF EN is at the vanguard.
“Our development teams look toward anything that is ‘green,’” says Gallagher.
EDF EN will become engaged in two more major projects that will begin in 2014 and 2015, he reports. “One will be the largest wind farm in Canada,” he adds.