Aurora Energy is committed to playing a vital role in the ongoing efforts to improve air quality in Fairbanks.
We rely on ultra-low sulfur coal as a fuel source and utilize clean coal technology to reduce emissions. But Aurora Energy also contributes to better air quality by efficiently using “waste heat” from electricity generation to meet local needs for space heating.
Recycling Our Residual Heat
The generation of electric power results in an enormous amount of residual heat. Most power plants simply vent this waste heat out into the air, or into nearby water. However, the Aurora Energy facility captures this heat energy and pipes it underground, as hot steam or hot water, to provide space heating to hundreds of homes, businesses, churches, government buildings, and other structures in central Fairbanks.
In fact, up to 40 percent of the space heating that Aurora provides its customers is recycled energy that would otherwise be wasted. The Aurora district heating system helps improve air quality, because without it, current customers would be forced to rely on less-efficient sources to meet their heating needs.
For example, if all existing district heat customers used fuel oil instead, it would result in burning an additional 2.2 million gallons of this fuel every year. This in turn would generate nearly two tons of additional PM 2.5 pollutants every year.
In contrast, the Aurora Energy plant utilizes a full-stream bag house to greatly reduce PM 2.5 emissions. After passing through the filters of the baghouse, combustion gases then move vertically through a tall flue-gas stack that allows emissions to be discharged at above ground level. This elevation is critical, because it means that the discharge occurs above the wintertime inversion layer. It therefore does not contribute significantly to the air quality problems that occur below the inversion layer.
If every current district heat customer had to acquire its own furnace unit, the resulting emissions from burning fuel would occur right at street level where the winter-time air quality problems are most severe.
Aurora Energy is committed to helping improve air quality in Fairbanks by maintaining and expanding its environmentally responsible system for meeting the community’s energy needs.