Lead Proponent: Yukon Energy Corp.
Location: Whitehorse, Yukon
ecoEII Contribution: $ 500,000
Project Total: $ 1,007,735
Yukon’s hydro electrical supply feeds an isolated grid and is close to capacity. Increasing and diversifying Yukon’s supply of electricity from renewable sources is a key priority for the territory. Wood is a renewable energy source that can be produced in Yukon, creating local economic benefits for the energy sector as well as the forest industry.
In 2012, Yukon Energy Corporation (YEC), the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN), Cold Climate Innovation of the Yukon Research Centre and the Village of Haines Junction, joined forces to investigate the potential for a biomass power plant in the community of Haines Junction that would produce electricity for the region. The plant would primarily be fueled by wood waste from sawmill and timber harvesting residues, and from forests affected by fire and spruce beetle infestations. The initiative was named the “Yukon Bioenergy Demonstration Project”.
EcoEII contributed $500K towards a Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) study for the proposed project. The study would determine the technical and economic viability of biomass power generation in the Yukon, specifically in the community of Haines Junction.
The FEED study evaluated available biomass gasifiers that could be combined with a reciprocating engine generator to produce electricity. Although the technology selected could be innovative, it had to be at or near commercialization to enable reliable operation in a northern community. Additional consideration was given to the availability of locally derived feedstock and operating efficiencies of the plant (i.e. production of waste heat).
The study concluded that the project should start with installation of a small 500KWe system as a proof of concept. A small sized plant would have a secure supply of feedstock, be easier to operate and maintain, and could provide waste heat to match the heating load for a nearby public building in the community. It was therefore recommended that the proposed biomass plant be located near the heating load, as well as near the existing diesel generator site.
A preliminary design was developed for a small 500KWe system and probable capital costs were outlined. The system was designed to be modular and scalable up to 2MWe once the operation and financial viability of the small system could be confirmed.
As part of the study, a draft Environmental and Socio-economic Impact Assessment (IA) was prepared. The assessment incorporated an overview of the regulatory regimes associated with permitting the project, summaries of baseline conditions, expected effects and proposed mitigation.
Benefits to Canada:
The biomass plant, if realized, would provide renewable electricity for the territory, and also has potential to be a viable source of heat. Biomass electricity production in northern Canada offers the possibility of a local power supply, creation of a new and sustainable industry, as well as new jobs and business opportunities for northern and First Nations communities. The study provided valuable information on biomass electricity generation that will be useful to a wide range of northern communities across Canada.
CAFN is continuing with the project, and determining the governance mechanism that would take the project from exploration and feasibility to commercialization. Further work is being undertaken to resize the final project with a “heat load” approach, and to better understand the business opportunities from fibre supply to biomass.