The Lower Churchill Project is a hydroelectric project in Labrador, Canada, to develop the remaining 35% of the Churchill River that has not already been developed by the Churchill Falls Generating Station. The project is developed in two phases: Phase one includes a hydroelectric generating facility at Muskrat Falls and transmission lines; and phase two a hydroelectric generating facility at Gull Island. The Lower Churchill’s two installations will have a combined capacity of more than 3,000 MW and will be able to provide 16.7 TWh of electricity per year.
Phase one of the Lower Churchill Project is referred to as Muskrat Falls Project. The Muskrat Falls Project includes the construction of an 824 MW hydroelectric generating facility and more then 1,500 km of associated transmission lines, the Labrador-Island Link that will transmit power from Muskrat Falls to Soldiers Point on the Avalon Peninsula and the Maritime Link connecting Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
The hydroelectric generating facility is being constructed at Muskrat Falls on the lower Churchill River, approximately 30 km west of Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The facility consists of two dams, a spillway and a powerhouse. The construction of the Muskrat Falls Project began in 2013 with establishing the necessary infrastructure for the project and executing clearing activities. The work started on the north side on the river and will progress to the south side.
In 2015, the construction of the spillway progressed significantly with over 48,000 m3 of concrete poured for the structure. The river is expected to be diverted through the spillway in 2016 to enable the construction of the dams. The north dam will be constructed using a special high-density concrete and the south dam will be a conventional rock-filled dam. Once both dams have been constructed, impoundment of the reservoir will begin.
The area north of the river forms a natural dam. This area, known as the North Spur, is being stabilized as part of the work undertaken at Muskrat Falls. Stabilization activities started in 2014 and will be completed prior to impoundment. The powerhouse of the generating facility will consist of four units, each housing a turbine and generator, which will be installed in sequence.
Construction of the Muskrat Falls Project is expected to complete in 2018. Once completed Muskrat Falls will be the second-largest hydroelectric facility in the province and approximately 40% of the power generated will be used to meet the island’s electricity needs.