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Biomass projects take material traditionally thought of as waste, and transform them into energy, heat and other marketable products. Recent estimates indicate that 125,000m3 of wood biomass is easily accessible on the North Island, which is only 15% of the total available biomass in the region. Biomass heat production can also support new businesses like greenhouses and agriculture. There are several existing industries currently either utilizing or exploring the potential use of biomass energy. They include local municipal governments, as well as local businesses such as Foenix Forest Technologies, Inc., Northland Power Chips LP and Neucel (Port Alice pulp mill), to name a few. The Provincial government supports efforts to utilize biomass through the BC Bioenergy Network.
Sectoral Investment Opportunities
Even with only 15% of biomass waste accessible by road, there is a great potential for biorefinery programs and businesses. With future advances in technology and potential for partnerships with the forestry companies, much of the untapped waste could be made available. Sectoral investment opportunities include:
- Bioenergy Potential
- District Heating Potential
- Waste Products
- Waste Energy Potential
BC Bioenergy Network
Established in April 2008 with a $25 million grant from the BC government, the BC Bioenergy Network is an industry-led initiative that is the catalyst for deploying near-term bioenergy technologies and supporting mission-driven research to build a world-class bioenergy capability in BC. To achieve this, the BC Bioenergy Network invests in capital and technology development, as well as targeted capacity building.
The BC Bioenergy Network supports the demonstration and deployment of products and systems that produce heat, power, combined heat and power, convert biomass into solid fuel, refine biomass into liquid fuel, and collect or concentrate biogas to be used as fuel. These products and systems take advantage of BC’s bioenergy opportunities in the agriculture, forest and municipal sectors. The BC Bioenergy Network also offers relevant services to the bioenergy community in British Columbia, including bioenergy information and promotion, contact facilitation, and networking, conferences and workshops. To learn more about the BC Bioenergy Network.
In a recent profile, the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations indicated that there is 835,000m3 of logging residue in harvested areas. Of this, 15% (125,000m3) is accessible by road (North Island – Central Coast Natural Resource District Profile, 2011). Port Hardy also preformed a recent study of the wood supply in the region which identified that, presently, approximately 30,000 tones of green wood could be secured annually at a relatively low cost.
An additional 20,000 tones could also be made available if the Northland wood chipping operation at Beaver Cove were to cease operation. The 50,000 tones could be bought for $10.63-$11.58 per ton. It has been determined that a power plant (of between 1.4-3.5 MW) would be economically viable if buyers for waste heat could be found. This plant could also help offset C02 emissions for the District. A carbon credit of 0.95 could be produced for every MWh of electricity produced, these credits are currently being traded for $15 USD a ton.
District Heating Potential
The evaluation of a proposed Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generating system of approximately 100 kW electricity and 500,000 Btu/hr hot water was also carried out by the District. The proposed system would be integrated into the existing electrical and heating systems that would utilize locally sourced wood waste and residue as fuel. The proposed system has a number of attractive aspects, including income generation, employment opportunities, economic expansion, educational opportunities/training and assistance with carbon neutrality.
A heat audit would have to be initiated before the costs and benefits can be fully realized, and the costs of retrofitting proposed buildings would also have to be taken into account. A large-scale CHP generating system could create employment for biomass providers. If a large-scale system is not viable, schools, hotels and apartments could utilize small-scale CHP generating systems. These CHP generating systems help keep money in the local economy and can allow for business creation.
Ash would be a byproduct of energy production and has a number of practical uses, including garden fertilizers and pesticides, silver shining, glass cleaning, odor neutralization, fixing water rings on wood furniture, creating Lye (NaOH) for soap or biodiesel production, and treating ice on walkways.
Waste Energy Potential
Waste to Energy is the process of creating energy in the form of electricity or heat from the incineration of waste source. Because waste energy facilities often require little staff, its value is in the environmental benefits and in the creation of related services. On top of existing collection services, sorting and recycling services are created to ensure that recyclable material is salvaged or made into marketable products. Waste energy reduces the dependency on landfills and helps create sustainable waste management.