Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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Current Winner - 2023

Synergy Award for Innovation

Allen Curry

Synergy Award for Innovation

Category:University Partnerships

University of New Brunswick
NB Power

The Mactaquac Generating Station (MGS) is the principal asset of NB Power, New Brunswick’s energy Crown corporation, generating between 20% and 30% of the province’s renewable energy. When NB Power realized the dam would reach the end of its service life almost 40 years earlier than originally anticipated due to swelling and cracking in the concrete, caused by the alkali-aggregate reaction, it was faced with the difficult decision to rebuild or remove the facility. The MGS experiences the largest concrete growth rate of any operating hydropower facility in the world.

NB Power partnered with Professor Allen Curry and the Canadian Rivers Institute academic team to launch the Mactaquac Aquatic Ecosystem Study (MAES), a whole-river study of the Wolastoq (Saint John River), to develop new knowledge about the river ecosystem. Ultimately, the research by the MAES team successfully supported NB Power’s multi-billion-dollar decision to renew the MGS. However, the partners decided to expand their focus and take a broad approach that would help inform structural decisions for all of NB Power’s hydro facilities. As a result, their research collaboration has provided NB Power with greater confidence in its decision making, and has given assurance to its regulators as well as to the stakeholders and local Indigenous communities.

Today, MAES is regarded as a centre of research excellence for large dam renewals. It has trained over 200 young scientists and engineers and advanced research in the hydropower and natural resources development sectors in Canada and around the world.

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