September 9, 2015 at 12:21 pm #1309
There are a number of risks associated with biomass heating in existing neighbourhoods, including concerns about air quality. Risks can be both real and perceived. Communities may differ in their perception of risk depending on size, location, economic structure and history.
Vancouver’s initial proposal for to use biomass for the South East False Creek district energy system was defeated in part because of public rejection. An SFU study examines the link between risk and effective public engagement for South East False Creek. [summit.sfu.ca/system/files/iritems1/9944/etd5849.pdf]
City of Prince George also experienced resistance to biomass heating.
Where you live or work, what do you think the public response to a proposed biomass district energy system might be?
September 10, 2015 at 4:32 pm #1313
Overall, biomass district heating systems have been received quite well in various locations around the NWT, including many installations in the City of Yellowknife as well as in regional centres such as Norman Wells, Ft. Simpson, & Hay River. The majority of these district heating systems have been led by the GNWT and City of Yellowknife.
A handful of smaller district heating systems have been sought directly by community governments such as the Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation (Kakisa) – not yet commissioned & hugely delayed by challenges with getting the installation contractor on-site to complete the work at each stage of this project, the Native Communications Society co-operative biomass district heating system (in Yellowknife).
Resistance to these biomass district heating systems has not focused on air quality, various challenges such as securing the necessary understanding of these new technologies, the funds & expertise to manage such installations, and the need for dedicated contractors to competently install these systems AND fro the community to be able to access appropriate maintenance and repair contractors if & when the systems fail and need appropriately trained service experts to deal with the matter.
September 14, 2015 at 10:02 am #1317
After the experiences in Vancouver, the City of Victoria commissioned a report “Biomass District Energy – Public Engagement Strategy” to follow-up on the Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) completed in 2012 that called for a biomass energy plant in the downtown core. I have not seen any evidence of the public engagement for this project yet, but that might be a function of some other major infrastructure project happening in Victoria right now. I think that the public would accept the project if they can be convinced that the project will not have a negative impact on air quality – something that is high here on the coast and people expect it as such.
September 18, 2015 at 3:22 pm #1336
We (the Energy Branch of YG) currently completed public consultation on our draft biomass strategy. Broadly the public was supportive of using biomass for heat if it provided local benefits, contributed to energy security, and economic development opportunities. They were equally opposed to biomass if it contributed negatively to air quality and they were concerned about the impacts of harvesting Yukon wood – especially if that wood was green.
September 19, 2015 at 12:38 pm #1337
In Nanaimo BC, I know Vancouver Island Health has been working to reduce energy use and lower carbon emissions in a number of ways. Recently, the City was approached to discuss the feasibility of replacing the existing oil fired boilers at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) with a co-generation plant using bio-mass and natural gas as a backup.
They felt that biomass provides an opportunity to help stimulate local employment on the island as well as lower carbon emissions by switching fuels from oil to wood, which can be considered as a more carbon neutral choice, as long as the reforestation is done sustainably. While we have not yet engaged the public to discuss this yet, I know our council and Mayor had an immediate negative reaction toward the thought of the hospitable burning wood.
Despite the assurances about how clean the technology is for wood burning, there is a strong negative reaction toward going this way in the City. Like many communities, Nanaimo has allot of homes with wood stoves, which have caused localized air quality issues in past winters. I think this has helped set this kind of tone.
Recent proposals about rezoning industrial land to accept garbage from the lower mainland to be used in a proposed biomass incinerator also met a strong negative public reaction.
October 2, 2015 at 12:54 pm #1366
On the technical level, it appears that situating biomass boilers within a natural gas grid is very helpful (as you mention VIH is exploring in Nanaimo). In a sense NG can be considered a “bridge fuel” in this specific context. The natural gas can be phased out in a district heating system, as alternatives become viable. When used to create electricity, natural gas does no better than coal as far a GHG’s are concerned, so it’s sometimes called the “bridge to nowhere” in that case.
When a community is outside of the NG infrastructure there is an opportunity to explore bio-methane, or woodgas as a backup, or look to a heat-exchange technology.
September 21, 2015 at 9:24 pm #1347
I’d like to think that a biomass district energy system would be supported here. However, I know a few folks who have an issue with emissions from wood heat.
In many ways, biomass is a great resource on this island, as we have lots of trees and forests, and we have employment in the forrest industry – loggers, firewood suppliers, arborists.
With such a focus on agriculture I can see a bit of a battle as to the most desirable end product of any sustainable wood harvest. People seem to be fearful of energy and would rather not think of the effects of their consumption. Organic biomass for agriculture is pretty popular- competing with sustainable energy for green credibility. In this regard I could see a biomass digester as a better fit for this community: the side product of bio digestion is great organic compost.
Some research would need to be done to gauge the community acceptance on a biomass district heat system.
- This reply was modified 8 years ago by Jen Grebeldinger.
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