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NWTBiomass Energy strategy

All photos credit Government of the Northwest Territories unless otherwise stated.

NWTBiomass Energy Strategy

Minister MessageThe Northwest Territories (NWT) Biomass Strategy promotes the useof biomass energy in the NWT while ensuring the local harvest of woodremains sustainable.An increased use of wood and wood pellets as an alternative sourceof energy supports the Government of the Northwest Territories’ (GNWT)goal of an environment that will sustain present and future generations,and sustainable, vibrant, safe communities. The GNWT continues to workvery closely with NWT communities in both the implementation andplanning of its biomass initiatives.For centuries, the people of the NWT have relied on wood to heat theirhomes. As communities grew and fossil fuels replaced wood as the mainsource of energy, burning wood as a fuel source decreased. Recent risesin the cost of energy and concerns about climate change have lead toa renewed interest in the use of wood and wood pellets to heat northernhomes and businesses.Climate change remains a serious issue for the people of the NWT.It is important to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and promotealternative, reliable sources of fuel. The GNWT continues to support,investigate and implement initiatives that will assist in adapting toand mitigating the impacts of climate change in the NWT.The GNWT continues to build on its efforts to reduce greenhouse gasemissions by advancing alternate energy sources such as biomass.It is my hope this Biomass Strategy will aid us in our attempt toreduce greenhouse gases and set an example for Northerners andthe rest of Canada.J. Michael MiltenbergerMinister of Environment and Natural Resources

Table of Contents Introduction to Biomass Energy1 NWT Biomass Potential2 Purpose3 Goal3 Objectives4 Action Plan5 Community Engagement12 Strategy Review12 Appendix 1 Summary of Actions14On the Cover Photo Credit:Ashley St. Germaine (left photo)

N W T B i o m a ss E ne r g y S t r a te g y

Historically, firewood was oneof the primary energy sourcesthroughout the NorthwestTerritories (NWT). Fossil fuelseventually replaced wood as asource of heat in past decades,but wood and wood pellets havereceived renewed interest in thelast few years.Rising prices for conventionalfossil fuels, along with effortsto reduce greenhouse gasemissions that cause climatechange, are the main reasonswhy wood is now beingreconsidered as a source of energy.The development of new andefficient technologies has madewood a reliable source of energyfor large scale applications.Large wood pellet boilers canheat institutional buildings suchas schools and offices, these typesof boilers can also fuel districtheating systems and generateelectricity.Challenges in expanding theuse of wood and wood pelletsfor an energy source in the NWTexist; firewood for conventionalwoodstoves is harvested inmany NWT communities, butwood pellets are currently beingpurchased from northern Alberta.It may be possible to develop anew industry in the NWT to harvestand produce wood pellets.NWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGyIncreased use of wood as anenergy source will require carefulmanagement of the forest toensure the harvest is sustainableand carbon neutral.Introduction toBiomass EnergyTransportation and distributionsystems for wood pellets andconventional firewood are stillnot well developed. This leads tohigh prices in many communitiesand vulnerability to supply chaininterruptions.The NWT Biomass Energy Strategyis intended to build on themomentum towards greater useof wood and wood pellets byhelping to establish conditionsin NWT communities for localharvest, improved transportationand production of clean andefficient heat. Larger boilers,possibly servicing loads on districtheating systems, will be selectedfor pilot projects that use biomassto generate electricity.Biomass. Plant material availableon a renewable basis.Biomass Energy. All forms ofrenewable energy derived directlyor indirectly from organic plantmaterials produced by the processof photosynthesis.Biofuel. Solid, liquid or gas fuelderived from biomass.1

NWT BiomassPotentialForest covers 33.3 millionhectares of land in the NWT andrepresents 28 per cent of theCanadian boreal forest. Trees inthe NWT grow more slowly than insouthern jurisdictions. But withcareful planning, NWT forestshave potential for the sustainableharvest of biomass energy becausethe forest industry currentlyoperates at very low levels.stored in the mass of trees andplants. When a tree is harvestedand burned as biomass energy,it is considered carbon neutralas long as another tree growsin its place. This natural cycleThe most productive forest isconcentrated in southern NWT.Broad areas of harvestable forestland can be found throughout theMackenzie Valley and the NorthSlave and T ‡ch· regions.The absence of major forestryactivities provides the NWT witha unique challenge to supportbiomass energy. Southern biomassenergy projects have focusedon the use of large volumes ofwaste wood available from theforestry industry at extremelylow cost to produce wood pellets.The NWT does not have a lowcost supply of waste wood andmust pursue a different course.This means harvesting treesto produce pellets.Biomass and Climate ChangeBiomass is essentially solar energyThe Department of Environmentand Natural Resources (ENR) hasdone considerable work in mappingthe NWT’s forests and exploringpossibilities for sustainable forestryuse near communities.Biomass is also available in the NWT from the following sources: Wood residue in the form of woodchips from:y road building and maintenance;y forest thinning for community protection;y forest fire burn areas; and/ory pipeline or seismic line cutting.leads to no net gain in greenhouse Cardboard, paper or construction and demolition wastegases in the atmosphere. Fast growing willow or poplar2NWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGy

The Biomass Energy Strategy guides the Government of the NorthwestTerritories’ (GNWT) actions to reduce the emissions and costs of fossilfuels by promoting the use of wood for energy in the NWT.PurposeThe GNWT is responsible for coordinating the actions described in thisStrategy and working with communities, businesses and consumersto encourage the use of new technologies for wood energy.Actions in this Strategy are consistent with the broader goals of theNWT Energy Plan and Greenhouse Gas Strategy including the developmentof other clean energy sources, energy efficiency and broader energysupply questions.The Biomass Energy Strategy establishes conditions to enable biomassenergy to become an integral part of the energy mix in the NWT.The Strategy can lead to actions which may increase the consumptionof biomass products in NWT communities and reduce dependency ondiesel fuel. An efficient biomass energy system can reduce energy costsfor residents, businesses and government operations. These systemswill vary between communities, depending on factors relevant to eachcommunity or region.GoalPhoto Credit: Ashley St. GermaineNWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGy3

ObjectivesThis Biomass Energy Strategy is an ambitious plan to promote theuse of local and imported biomass products. The GNWT, workingcooperatively with communities, will: assess the technical feasibilityof heat, electricity and local fuel wood supply projects; encouragefuel wood use; and, enhance knowledge and management practicesto sustainably harvest and burn wood.The NWT can be a leader in sustainable biomass energy use inCanada. The benefits are significant and can be realized in relativelyshort time periods. The sustainable and wise development of forestresources can reduce fossil fuel use, save money on imported fossilfuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.Actions contained in The Biomass Energy Strategy fall under fourbroad objectives: Increasing education and awareness of biomass as a heatingoption for residents and businesses; Promoting biomass heating options;Why Biomass? Promoting greater stability in the supply of biomass in the NWT,including locally produced biomass; andEnvironmentally Friendly. Promoting combined heat and power technologies.Biomass is a carbon neutralenergy source.Energy Self Sufficiency.Sufficient biomass resourcesexist to help reduce dependenceon imported fuels.Economic Development.Biomass projects can provide longterm jobs in NWT communities.Energy Savings.Biomass can reduce the costs ofheat and electricity in the NWT.Photo Credit: Arctic Energy Alliance4NWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGy

Increasing education and awarenessof biomass as a heating option forresidents and businessesAction PlanAction 1:Deliver “Burn-it-Smart”workshops in interestedcommunities starting with threecommunities in 2009 and 2010.In 2007 and 2008 ENR fundeda “Burn-it-Smart” workshop inWhati. The workshop encouragedthe use of proper burningtechniques of well-seasonedwood. The Arctic Energy Alliance(AEA) is sponsoring workshopsin other NWT communities.Over the next three years, AEA willdeliver “Burn-it-Smart” workshopsin all NWT communities thatuse firewood. AEA and ENR willcontinue to work to inform andtrain the public in best practicesrelated to firewood burning.Action 2:Promote the use of wood pelletstoves, furnaces and boilersthroughout the NWT.AEA held well-attended woodpellet fairs in Yellowknife in 2008and 2009. The fair promotedwood pellets for residential useNWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGyby displaying pellet burningappliances and industryinformation on related services.Information products on woodpellet consumption were alsodistributed to the public.AEA will continue to promotewood pellet appliances throughoutthe NWT. A wood pellet fair will beheld annually in Yellowknife andwood pellets will be promoted atregional trade shows.Burn-it-Smart WorkshopBurn-it-Smart is a trademarkof Natural Resources Canada.The workshops are designed tohelp people promote safer, moreefficient and healthier use of woodas a residential fuel for heatingand enjoyment.5

Action PlanAction 3:Sponsor woodstove and pelletstove installation training.Woodstove and pellet stoveinstallations are scrutinizedby insurance companies andregulators for safety concerns.AEA sponsors the industrystandard Wood Energy TechnicalTraining (WETT) Program.This ensures the NWT has certifiedinstallers to meet the requirementsof insurance companies.Action 4:Develop air quality guidelinesfor biomass burning in theNWT to address local air qualityconcerns at the municipal level.Wood Energy TechnicalTraining (WETT) CertificationWETT is a program for people whoinstall and maintain wood heatappliances for the public. It is astandard developed by industry andaccepted by insurance companies.The courses are delivered by theindustry association.6The United States EnvironmentalProtection Agency (US EPA) setstandards for particulate emissionsfrom woodstoves and pelletappliances (1990), which theCanadian Standards Association(CSA) mirrored under standard CSAB415. Woodstove manufacturersin the USA have been required tocomply with the EPA standardsand stack test their products priorto selling them to consumers; inCanada, products are availablethat comply with CSA B415. Theseemission standards are alreadybeing applied to new boilers thatreceive funding from the GNWTincluding appliances for homeuse eligible for rebates fromthe Energy Efficiency IncentiveProgram (EEIP).Modern woodstoves and pelletappliances are more efficient thantraditional woodstoves because agreater percentage of the woodis consumed during the burningprocess. Older woodstoves releasesmoke composed, in part, ofparticles which are essentiallyunburned wood and gaseousby-products. Enhanced designsin modern appliances promotesecondary combustion and burnoff these particles and gases,resulting in a more efficient burnand ultimately, cleaner emissions.NWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGy

ENR established ambient airquality standards (2002) for avariety of parameters, includingparticulate matter, and operatesair quality monitoring stations inFort Liard, Yellowknife, NormanWells and Inuvik. Althoughwoodstove smoke is known tocontribute to levels of particulatematter in the air, the highestlevels are typically caused byforest fires. As older, less efficientwoodstoves and oil burningfurnaces are replaced, air qualityin communities is expected toimprove even if the amount ofwood burned increases.ENR will develop an air qualityguideline to ensure that standardsand practices are in place toprotect local air quality.Action PlanPromoting biomassheating optionsAction 5:Promote efficient biomassburning technologies forresidential use through theEnergy Efficiency IncentiveProgram (EEIP).Biomass is a common fuel sourcein the NWT due to its relativelylow cost and accessibility toresidents. The use of firewoodand pellets for home heating hasbeen increasing in part becauseof government rebate programsand awareness campaigns.Photo Credit: Arctic Energy AllianceThe GNWT’s Energy EfficiencyIncentive Program (EEIP) providesrebates on the purchase ofefficient woodstoves and pelletstoves. More than 200 NWTresidents have received rebateson new purchases of wood andpellet stoves in the past twoyears. The GNWT increased rebateamounts in 2008 and 2009 onwoodstoves and pellet stoves andcreated new rebate categories forpellet furnaces and boilers. ENRhas also coordinated a marketingplan for EEIP, which highlights thebenefits of woodstoves and pelletstoves. AEA delivers this programon behalf of the GNWT.Photo Credit: Arctic Energy AllianceNWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGy7

Action PlanAction 7:Action 6:Continue to expandimplementation of biomasssystems in GNWT facilities andfurther solidify the market forbiomass fuels.The GNWT Department of PublicWorks and Services (PWS) installedwood pellet boilers at the NorthSlave Correctional Facility in2006. Based on the favourableperformance of those boilers,PWS is installing or planningto install pellet-fired boilers inYellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smithand BehchokÎ. This reinforces thesupply by continually expandingthe market and giving privateindustry the security to investin this growing market.Work with communitiesto assess the potential ofestablishing and/or expandingnew district heat systemsusing biomass energy as theheating source.District heat systems supplyheat from a central heat plantto more than one building.There are currently several smalldistrict heating systems in theNWT. Most have been installedto use residual heat from dieselfired generators operated bythe Northwest Territories PowerCorporation (NTPC). These systemsprovide roughly 70 per cent of thetotal heat load required to heatthe connected buildings and mayoffer opportunities to make up thedifference using biomass boilers.PWS is finalizing plans toconstruct a small biomass-fireddistrict heat system connectingfour schools in Hay River. Addingbiomass boilers to existingdistrict heat systems is also beingconsidered, such as the one inFort McPherson that uses residualheat from the power plant.GNWT departments and AEA willinvestigate potential opportunitiesand work with communities toidentify candidate sites to installmore biomass-fired district heatsystems by 2011.Photo Credit: David Johnson8NWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGy

Promoting greater stability in themarket and supply of biomassin the NWT, including locallyproduced biomassEncourage a stable andeconomic supply of pelletsin all NWT communities.because it provides thelowest transportation costs.This means the NWT couldbe vulnerable to supplyinterruptions in future years.Wood pellet transportation andstorage infrastructure is providedby the private sector and isfocused on large communitieson the road system. There ispotential for expanding woodpellet use and supply in the NWTonce economic and technicalbarriers are addressed.ENR will continue workingwith AEA and other GNWTdepartments to establishmarkets and remove barriersto encourage a dependableand economic supply of pelletsin all communities.Action 8:NWT communities have differentinfrastructure and transportationsupply methods. AEA hascompleted a NWT CommunityWood Pellet Study exploringoptions and costs of deliveringpellets to all NWT communities.The Study identified theadvantages and barriers relatedto wood pellet transportationin the NWT. The Study alsocompared the price to currentdiesel prices in each community.To date, most of the pelletsconsumed in the NWT arepurchased from one milllocated in northern AlbertaNWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGyAction PlanAction 9:Work with the private sectorand Aboriginal developmentcorporations to identify viablebusiness models to producepellets and/or woodchipsin the NWT.There is considerable potentialto use NWT forest resourcesto create biomass energy. TheNWT forest industry is not largeenough to produce sufficientwaste by-product to serve abiomass/pellet production facility.Developing NWT biomass as afuel source will require harvestingtrees for a feed stock.9

Action PlanLarge biomass boilers can be fedwith either pellets or woodchips.Woodchips can be made from avariety of wood materials includingwillow, poplar and cuttings fromthe clearing of road right-of-ways,seismic lines or forest thinningfor community protection. Theyare much easier and cheaper toproduce than pellets, but mustbe used close to where they areproduced because they are bulkyand expensive to transport.Recently ENR completed a studyentitled Assessing the NWT EnergyOpportunity for Woody Biomass.This report indicates that a smallscale production plant locatedin the NWT has the potential toproduce pellets at a cost that iscompetitive with pellets purchasedfrom outside of the Territory.Additional work is being doneto prepare a detailed feasibilitystudy. The intention is to assistprivate business establishproduction capacity duringthe next two years.Developing a local supply ofpellets or woodchips is animportant element of the BiomassEnergy Strategy. Local productioncan provide greater economicand employment benefits andassure consumers that a steadyNWT-based supply will continue tobe available at predictable prices.10Action 10:Develop a wood marshallingyard model.ENR is developing a WoodMarshalling Yard Model withthe intention of working withinterested communities toestablish their own marshallingyard over the course of the nexttwo years.A wood marshalling yard is amarket that buys wood fromvarious wood harvesters anddistributes it to a broader market;capitalizing on its increasedwood supply ability. In somecommunities, this may simplybe an opportunity to developa local supply of cured fire wood.Other communities may havebroader commercial interestsin producing sawlogs, wood forpellet production, or woodchipsfor local consumption.A marshalling yard can providea stable year-round market forharvesters, a supply of timberfor consumers who require highervolumes of wood, and encouragelocal employment. A marshallingyard can potentially accept greenwood and cure it before sale.NWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGy

Action 11:Evaluate and quantify woodresources around selectcommunities and determinepotential harvesting areas.Most communities are alreadyusing wood as a supplementalheating source. ENR is workingwith interested communitiesto identify appropriate forestresources to meet local needsfor firewood and to evaluatethe potential for other typesof biomass products.Different types of forestassessments are being conductedto identify potential sustainableharvests of sawlogs and wood forpellet and/or chip production.Forest inventory information isbeing improved using satelliteimagery, aerial photography andfield assessments. Forest growth,productivity and regenerationare being modeled to determinethe best areas to focus on forsustainable biomass potential.them to advance this potential.New resource inventories andinformation will be developed ascommunity interest in pursuingnew opportunities increases.Action PlanPromoting combined heat and powertechnologies where applicableAction 12:Install a combined heat andpower pilot project in onecommunity by 2012.Electricity production frombiomass is a new, but relativelywell established technology inother parts of Canada and theworld. The majority of theseare combined heat and powerprojects, and are at too largea scale for NWT communities.Smaller, more appropriate unitsare now becoming available.Electricity production can runoff the hot exhaust gases frombiomass boilers servicing a heatload. Communities installingdistrict heat systems over the nexttwo years will be assessed for thepotential of establishing a pilotproject to generate electricity andsupplement the community load.Pilot projects will lead to a greaterunderstanding of the potentialbenefits and limitations associatedwith biomass generated electricityin communities.Active work is being carried outnear the communities of Kakisa,Fort Providence, Jean Marie River,Behchoko, Fort Simpson, Wrigleyand Yellowknife. This work willbetter define the forest resources.Fort McPherson has also expressedinterest in harvesting willowsfor energy; ENR is working withNWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGyPhoto Credit: Arctic Energy Alliance11

CommunityEngagementENR will work directly with communities,businesses, residents and other interested partiesto assess feasibility, and implement appropriateactions in each community.StrategyReviewA review of the Biomass Energy Strategy andits implementation will be done in fall 2011.Revisions will be made to reflect the experienceand knowledge gained through implementationof actions.12NWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGy


Appendix 1Summaryof Actions14NumberAction1Deliver “Burn-it-Smart” workshops in interestedcommunities starting with three communitiesin 2009 and 2010.2Promote the use of wood pellet stoves, furnacesand boilers throughout the NWT.3Sponsor woodstove and pellet stove installationtraining.4Develop air quality guidelines for biomass burningin the NWT that can be implemented to address localair quality concerns at the municipal level.5Promote efficient biomass burning technologiesfor residential use through the Energy EfficiencyIncentive Program (EEIP).6Continue to expand implementation of biomasssystems in GNWT facilities and further solidifythe market for biomass fuels.7Work with communities to assess the potential ofexpanding or establishing new district heat systemsusing biomass energy as the heating source.8Encourage a stable and economic supply of pelletsin all NWT communities.9Work with the private sector and Aboriginaldevelopment corporations to identify viable businessmodels to produce pellets or woodchips in the NWT.10Develop a wood marshalling yard model.11Evaluate and quantify wood resources aroundselect communities and determine potentialharvesting areas.12Install a combined heat and power pilot projectin one community by 2012.NWT BIOMASS ENERGy STRATEGy

1January 2010NWT Biomass ENErgy sTraTEgy

harvest of biomass energy because the forest industry currently operates at very low levels. NWT Biomass Potential Biomass and Climate Change Biomass is essentially solar energy stored in the mass of trees and plants. When a tree is harvested and burned as biomass energy, it is considered carbon neutral as long as another tree grows in its place.

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