Thermal generation has been part of the energy hub story for nearly fifty years. Thermal generating stations and combustion turbines are located in every province and state throughout the international northeast, often generating a significant portion of each region’s total energy production. New Brunswick alone produces over 2400MW of coal, diesel, or oil-fired energy. Much of this is generated by the Coleson Cove generating station, an oil-fired plant near Saint John which generates 978MW of energy – the largest energy producer in the province.
Thermal energy is generated by burning coal, natural gas, oil, or the combustion of diesel. The process can produce some harmful emissions. Concerns over greenhouse gases have led to a rise in the demand for cleaner, renewable energy sources. This could lead to a decrease in the demand for thermal energy. However, the issues of load-balancing and transmission associated with renewable energy sources such as wind energy mean these energy sources can not be relied on as a region’s only energy source. Thermal energy can be counted on to generate power regardless of weather conditions. There are also means to store energy produced at thermal stations so that peaks and dips in energy demand can be met.
There are currently steps being taken to reduce the negative environmental impacts of thermal generating stations. The refurbishment of Coleson Cove, for instance, will result in a 77 percent decrease in sulphur dioxide emission rates, a 70 percent decrease in NOx emission rates, and a 75 percent decrease in particulate release rates.