Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Olympics bring dirty power to Vancouver

Large events like the Olympics often require temporary structures and temporary power for those structures.  This was certainly the case at the Torino Olympics where over 500 generators burnt around 8,000,000 litres of fuel.

BC Hydro and VANOC promised that the 2010 Olympics would be different - it would be using BC Hydro's clean power sources and reduce GHG emissions by 90%.  But, apparently they weren't able to completely give up on the generators. 

Aggreko, the official supplier of diesel pollution for the games, is bragging that they will be supplying 34 MW of generators and 31 MW of electric heat. Which based on my calculations is more than 10% of the amount used in Torino (so much for the 90% reduction).

One might expect that most of this generation was in the remote mountain venues.  But the diesel generator pictured here is just one of several found at the Athlete's Village in the heart of Vancouver.  And this is not a back-up generator.  It appears to be running 24/7.

And VANOC and the City of Vancouver were thoughtful enough to re-route a popular bike route to run right past this pollution source.


Kevin Pegg said...

The stupidity of using electric heat downstream of a generator is obvious when one looks at the fuel conversion. Of the fuel energy in a L of diesel, 70% of that energy is wasted at the generator. Friction, fans and oil pumps, and of course, waste heat.

So we then take that 30% of converted energy and use it to produce: heat. Must take some big engineering brains to make that one fly.

The obvious question: why not just burn diesel to produce heat? Would only use 70% less fuel that way.

Mind boggling.

Zapple Thoughts... said...


Thanks for your story about the dirty diesel at the games. Imagine living next to it!

We're in the process of contacting the papers and have had interest!

Not only are we talking about air pollution, but also NOISE pollution. It's VERY loud!

Thanks again...


Rob said...

Thanks for the comments. It looks like Global TV is doing a story on this issue tomorrow.

A couple of more relevant points:
- The diesel generators create 30 times the ghg emissions that BC Hydro power does.
- The generators also produce other forms of pollution including diesel
particulate and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Operation of diesel generators
have been linked to increased cancer risks (see:

Anonymous said...