June 30, 2009
The University of Northern British Columbia has officially started a multi-million dollar bioenergy program with the opening today of a wood pellet system on campus. The pellet system has been installed at the I.K. Barber Enhanced Forestry Laboratory and is the result of a partnership between UNBC and the Wood Pellet Association of Canada. The project has been funded by the Government of Canada’s Community Economic Diversification Initiative.
“This is an exciting day for UNBC as we embark on a program – together with industry, government, and northern communities – that will hopefully enable the development of new renewable energy opportunities,” says Charles Jago, who spoke at the event as his last official duty as UNBC President. George Iwama begins his term as UNBC President on July 1.
The project, worth a total of just over half-a-million dollars, has involved the installation of a wood pellet combustion system at the Enhanced Forestry Lab with a silo for pellet storage, connections to the existing heating system of the Enhanced Forestry Lab, and a year’s worth of pellets provided by the local member companies of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada.
“While the project will provide heat to the Forestry Lab, it will be equally valuable as a platform for applied research,” says Dr. Jago. “Research already planned will measure all of the material and energy in and out to complete the first energy balance of a pellet heater. By the end of the year, we are confident that we will also have the cleanest pellet system in North America and unique made-in-the-North solutions for testing and monitoring emissions. The connection of operations to research has the potential to make UNBC’s bioenergy program transformative for the regional bioenergy industry.”
The next phase of UNBC’s bioenergy program will be a biomass gasification system for the main campus buildings installed by BC-based Nexterra Energy. This system will be installed adjacent to the Enhanced Forestry Lab and initial site preparation has begun. It is expected that the gasification system will be operational by early 2011.