The Canadian hydraulic power plant industry is facing a growing threat from the introduction of a new and expensive hydraulic power pack, and the U.”s is trying to compete against the U.,” says Jack Taha, a partner at Toronto-based consultancy Hydraulic Research Associates.
The new supply from the U.-based company Hydraulic Products and Technology (HPT), is designed to reduce the cost of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for oil and gas production in Canada.
Hydraulic Industries of Canada says the new product, which it describes as a hydraulic power compressor, is designed for use in a variety of applications including horizontal and vertical drilling, water injection, hydraulic fracturing, and gas injection operations.
But the new hydraulic powerpack is not without its detractors.
“The only thing that we have to keep in mind is the price of the product, and we can’t afford to pay that price,” says Dr. Jonathan Caulfield, an expert in hydraulic power generation and technology with the University of Waterloo.
He says a new supply of the HPT compressor would require the province to raise taxes or raise rates on consumers.
The industry has also been under pressure to introduce new power supplies since the first new power plant was constructed in 2011.
“We are at the end of a supply chain,” says David Cottrell, vice president of business development for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
“It’s been a very slow process and there is no indication we’ll be moving forward with the new supply anytime soon.”
But some industry experts say there are still opportunities for new power plants in Canada, especially in remote areas and areas with high natural gas prices.
“I don’t think there’s any shortage of new plants in the world,” says Prof. Peter Lefebvre, president of the International Federation of Hydraulic Engineers.
“Hydraulic Power has an important role to play in meeting those challenges.”
In fact, it is estimated that if Canada had a new hydraulic plant built now, it would save more than $50 million annually.
That would be enough to meet the energy needs of the population of Alberta and British Columbia for an entire year.
But that’s assuming the plant is built, says Prof Lefeber.
“In many ways, we don’t know what will happen,” he says.
“Even if it is a good plant, there are not any clear benefits.”
Hydraulics is working to develop the new power supply in Canada and elsewhere, says Lefes.
The company is working with governments and other stakeholders in Canada to determine where it can and should go.
But it has also found itself competing with the U-S.
as the market becomes increasingly competitive.
“That is really frustrating,” says Lettre.
“There are no good candidates.
So we’re trying to build a business and get the best technology out there, and that is the challenge that the market is going to face in the years to come,” he concludes.