BIOMASS AT WORK FOR KWADACHA FIRST NATION, BC
This story is brought to you in part by Biomass Recycle
By Cori Marshall
As reported in previous articles, biomass is lighter on greenhouse gas emissions than diesel, and can create local jobs. Biomass energy production can also recycle waste wood. Today we will look at a Prince George, BC First Nation community where the technology is up and running.
We spoke with Travis Abou, Manager of the Kwadacha First Nation Bioenergy Generation Plant, who said that the idea for making the switch came out of the devastation left by the Pine Beetle. Abou explained that the reserve was surrounded by dead pine trees, the community decided to take the dead trees "chip them up, burn them, [and] turn them into natural fuel."
The bioenergy initiative has had a ripple effect in the community of 350 by creating a number of jobs. Abou informed us that he has employed "4-5 spotters, 4 haulers, and 3 chippers," about 3% of the population. The spotters find the dead pine, the haulers pick it up and bring it to the chippers, who chip the wood before it is brought to the biomass plant.
It isn't always smooth sailing, Abou said that when the operation first began "we could hardly keep it running for twenty minutes." The initial power needed to start the biomass system is provided by a B.C. Hydro diesel plant until enough power has been generated to sustain it. The system has been operational for roughly six weeks and Abou admitted that "there are still shutdowns."
With the energy that is created, Abou highlighted that the plant produces hot water that is used to "heat the school and greenhouse for free." Biomass is not a miracle solution, wood has a much lower higher calorific value. This means that it is less efficient in creating energy than diesel.
The Kwadacha First Nation has taken a step to producing renewable energy with the biomass plant in the final commissioning phase. The community is not completely independent of diesel fuel as it is needed for startup. While the ecologic impact may not be completely fulfilled it has had a positive economic impact employing twelve people in the local community.