Jumpstarting the bioeconomy: bioeconomy group wants home-grown, wood-sourced heating solutions.

Author:Ross, Ian


Rolling out a strategy to better utilize the forest to combat the high price of heat and power may seem like it's been stuck in neutral, but Dawn Lambe explains Northerners will start to see tangible results this fall.

"We're finally at the point where the doors are opening on biomass," said the executive director of the Biomass North Development Centre.

Her North Bay-based advocacy group intends to create a buzz this fall, as they planned to identify 13 "sweet spot" demonstration projects at their annual general meeting and conference in late October.

After unveiling their bioeconomy strategy last year, Lambe said they've selected a handful of "can't-fail" projects, such as district heating plans, with the political will, abundant fibre supply, technical expertise and local consumer demand that makes them worthwhile.

Lambe said each project will be supported by a working group to put together the pre-feasibility analysis and pre-technical design with a bankable business plan at the end that a financial institute, an Aboriginal economic development fund or Scandinavian investors would want to fund.

"We'll be taking these projects to the point where they'll have a bulletproof business case, we'll have the environmental compliance and the provincial government will to make it happen."

While much of the criticism levelled at Queen's Park has focused on the price of electricity, the dialogue should really be about heating, she said. "Our heating costs are freaking ridiculous."

Instead of exporting wood pellets to Europe and trucking in liquid natural gas to communities, Lambe said the solution is in Northerners' backyards.

"There are opportunities. It's just a matter of looking at it uniquely."

The North has an abundance of available power, but it's saddled with outdated transmission infrastructure.

Instead of relying on a long wire from the Bruce Nuclear plant, Lambe said wood-fired co-generation plants can be used to establish community micro-grids "to island themselves from the provincial grid."

Groups like the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) are looking at long-term battery storage, and a net metering solution is being developed for the province right now.

Biomass is not completely off the province's radar but it hasn't received the same premium government incentives as the wind and solar industry.

"It's a north-south thing," said Lambe.

Southern Ontario agricultural biomass projects have been heavily subsidized, thanks to...

To continue reading