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Muskrat Falls Generating Facility

Construction on the generation facilities advanced significantly in 2017 reaching 78% complete.

The powerhouse, spillway and three dams are the primary components of the generating facility that span the lower Churchill River to create the reservoir – the source of power for the plant. At the end of 2017 the intake and powerhouse structures were substantially completed. With the powerhouse building now constructed and enclosed, work will continue on the assembly and installation of the four generating units inside the powerhouse. The project also achieved a significant milestone with the completion of two of the three dams – the South and North Spur dams – required to create the Muskrat Falls reservoir; and significant progress was made on the North dam. The work completed on the generation project this year moves us closer to delivering first power in late 2019.

Building the Muskrat Falls Generating Facility

Rock, concrete, steel, rebar and lots of people power – that’s some of the ingredients to create the many pieces that will fit perfectly together to finalize the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric generating facility. The powerhouse, spillway and three dams including the North Spur dam, North dam and South dam, are the primary components that span the lower Churchill River to create the reservoir – the source of power for the plant.

The Spillway and Powerhouse

In early 2014, Astaldi started construction on the spillway, powerhouse and intake structures for the Muskrat Falls generation project. Since then over 330,000 cubic metres of concrete has been placed to build these three main structures and about 3,800 metric tonnes of structural steel has been installed for the intake and powerhouse. 

In 2016, the spillway was put into operation as the river was diverted through the spillway for the first time. In 2017, construction of the powerhouse and intake structures for the Muskrat Falls generating facility was substantially completed. 

Spillway – is made up of five bays with gates that open and close as needed to control the release of water from the reservoir (area upstream of the facility).

Intake – draws the water from the river into the powerhouse and then onto the turbines and generators where electricity will be generated. Installing the intake gates is the first step in the process of moving water through the powerhouse where electricity will be made.

Powerhouse – houses the four generating units, which are the mechanical and electrical components required to generate the electricity.

To learn more about the spillway and powerhouse please click here

The Dams 

In 2016, the South dam and North Spur dams were completed and significant work progressed on the North dam. And with more than 100,000 cubic metres of concrete placed for the North dam this year, it reached an elevation of 15.69 metres. That’s about 40% of the required concrete placed.

North Spur dam – is a natural dam on the Churchill River that has been reinforced and stabilized. Between April 2015 and August 2017, Gilbert Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Ltd. completed their work activities with a focus on slope stabilization and erosion protection for the natural North Spur dam. Work included constructing cutoff walls, re-grading the upstream and downstream slopes of the North Spur, and installing erosion protection on the upstream and downstream shores. As part of the dam safety program, equipment was installed to enable ongoing monitoring of the area. Work on the North Spur dam was completed in August 2017. 

South dam – closes the south part of the reservoir between the south bank and the powerhouse and will hold water in the reservoir. It is a rock-fill embankment dam about 250 m long and an elevation of 46.3 m.  For the South dam, Barnard Pennecon Limited Partnership (BPLP) placed about 130,000 cubic metres of material to build the 250 m long rock-filled embankment dam. Construction was completed in September 2017 by BPLP.

North dam – spans the lower Churchill River from the spillway on the south to the North Spur. Upon completion, this dam will be in excess of 400 m long with a maximum elevation of about 39.3 m, making it one of the largest roller compact concrete dams in Canada. 

To learn more about the dams for the Muskrat Falls Project please click here