Work begins to replace historic units at Sir Adam Beck I station

16 March 2020

Work has started at Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Sir Adam Beck I Generating Station to replace two historic turbine generator units to provide increased output at the flagship hydro station.

In 2019, OPG removed the outdated 25 hertz (Hz) G1 and G2 turbine-generators and its associated equipment from the 98-year-old station. Going in will be two new, more efficient 60 Hz generators, which will add about 125MW of incremental generating capacity to the plant. Currently, the station’s eight remaining units (G3 to G10) have a maximum capacity of 447MW of power, with an estimated annual energy production of 2,149 gigawatt hours.

With the old units now gone, engineering design activities on the $120-million clean energy project are set to wrap up this year. Installation of the new G2 unit is scheduled to begin later this year and both new units are expected to be in service by 2022.

It will be the first full generator replacement to take place in the station’s long history.

“Nearly 100 years ago, the Sir Adam Beck I station in Niagara Falls helped set the standard for 25 Hz frequency, which became the norm across North America,” said Jessica Polak, OPG’s Vice-President of South Central Operations. “But there is no longer a demand for the 25 Hz power cycle, so it’s time to overhaul and upgrade these two units.

“The new generator units will be lighter and more efficient, and able to make more energy with less water required to pass through the turbine.”

When the station was put into service in 1922, the 10-unit facility was the largest hydro plant in North America and helped set the standard for 25 Hz power. In the 1950s, generators and household appliances were converted to run on a new standard – 60 Hz – but Sir Adam Beck I’s G1 and G2 units remained on 25 Hz right up until 2009 as it generated power for steel plants and other industries whose equipment still ran on the old frequency.

As it approaches its 100th birthday, Sir Adam Beck I GS is set to undergo other upgrades to help it continue to produce clean power for many more decades. Last year, OPG started work to overhaul and upgrade Unit 5. And planning continues for the refurbishment of the Sir Adam Beck Power Canal, which feeds the station water from the Welland and Niagara rivers.

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