Natural gas plays an important role in generating power in Saskatchewan, and with the recent announcement, it becomes the number one generating source in the province, surpassing conventional coal.
This expansion is a critical investment in our electrical infrastructure, and our provinces future, said SaskPower President and CEO Mike Marsh. This is part of our long-term plan to renew and expand our power grid, and meet a growing demand for electricity, which is expected to grow by 13 percent over the next five years.
The project involved converting three gas turbines from simple-cycle to combined-cycle, which means a 10 to 15 percent increase in efficiency. This newest addition adds to upgrades that were completed in 1971, 2002 and 2009. The power station was inaugurated by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1959.
Natural gas-based power uses well-established technology, is relatively low-cost and highly efficient. It produces less than half of the greenhouse gas emissions of conventional coal. It is a flexible technology that can provide baseload 24/7 power, and can quickly provide power for peak hours. Natural gas plants can also be put into service more quickly than other options, which is ideal to meet rising power demand.
Natural gas is an important part of our generation mix because it supports our future plans for additional wind capacity, ensuring that necessary backup power is available, said SaskPower Vice President of Planning, Environment and Sustainable Development Guy Bruce. Currently, 25 percent of our available capacity comes from renewables, and we plan to add even more in the future. Our goal is a diversified portfolio of options one that balances reliability, affordability and environmental impact.
SaskPower continues to invest in the Saskatoon area. Upgrade and reinforcement work in Warman and Martensville were completed in late 2014, and work is in progress on two other major upgrade projects around Saskatoon slated for completion in 2016. This investment will help reduce outages and meet growth in power demand for residential and industrial customers.