Having cleared a number of legal hurdles earlier this year, the Merritt Green Energy Project is now in the commissioning stage, and is still on track to be fully operational by the fall.
The structure is substantially complete, and will now undergo a series of tests to ensure all of the aspects of the biomass-fired plant are working as intended, said John Turner, vice president of operations at Veolia North America.
“[Commissioning] consists of putting the various systems and parts of the plant sequentially into operation to test that they function as we anticipate,” said Turner.
The process involves activating the boiler and conducting a series of test fires — which tends to create a very distinct sound as steam is redirected away from the turbines, explained Turner. Residents in Collettville are likely hear to the tests going on, Turner added, though he expects the noise to subside when the plant is fully operational.
“It’s a bit of a noisy process right now, but it’s really a one-time event during commissioning,” said Turner. “Now as we get into normal operations, there will be times where we take the boiler down and do some maintenance and then we bring it back up again.”
Up to this point, the boiler has only been fired using diesel fuel — but Turner hopes to do a test fire using biomass stored on site sometime in the near future.
“Haven’t got there yet but it’s our next step,” said Turner.
Turner said the project has the capacity to fit 20 days worth of biomass in their fuel yard — and workers monitor the piles to ensure that no fires are ignited before the fuel gets to the boiler.
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