The Kwadacha First Nation developed this project under the leadership of Chief Donny Van Somer to reduce the consumption of diesel generated electricity in the community.
The project, which began operating in 2017, uses wood chips from timber destroyed by the mountain pine beetle as its fuel source. The chips originate from the sawmill on the First Nation reserve as well as other local forest products. The community has access to an abundant supply of standing dead pine in the region: Four million cubic metres are situated within 30 km of Fort Ware and 50m of roads, which equates to a 400-year supply.
The chips undergo gasification in three vessels to generate wood gas, which is then cooled and filtered before entering three internal combustion engine generators. Each combined heat and power (CHP) biomass generator produces 45 kW of electricity and 108 kW of heat in the form of hot water. When selecting its equipment, the community chose commercial technology that already had many successful installations in Europe.
The heat from the units is used in a district heating system for the local school and greenhouses in cooler months. In warmer months, the heat is used to dry wood chips.
When implementing renewable energy projects using wood as the fuel source, it is essential to have a large enough wood supply to make the project viable over the long term. In the case of this project, it was also important to research the wood waste available from the plant.
In order to proceed with this type of project, enough funding needs to be secured in advance and funding agencies should be actively involved. Successful negotiations with BC Hydro is also key to sell power from community based projects to the power grid.
About 400 tonnes of GHG emissions reduced annually through reducing consumption of diesel generated electricity and propane for heating
Kwadacha sells power from this project to BC Hydro to reduce consumption of electricity from the diesel generators. $X in revenue was generated in 2017 (or first year of operation)
Reduces community’s reliance on diesel generated electricity by an anticipated 20-25%
Displaces propane use for heating, a more expensive fuel source
Creates ongoing employment for a few community members and offered jobs during construction
Economic opportunities for local forestry companies
Community is more self-sustainable
Total project cost:
About $4 million
Fraser Basin Council
Indigenous & Northern Affairs Canada
Natural Resources Canada’s Indigenous Forestry Initiative
BC Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources’ Community Energy Leadership Program
$410,000 from the community