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Renewable Energy Inventory

Biomass

Firewood for conventional woodstoves is harvested around most communities in the Northwest Territories and Yukon. On an annual average, woodstoves currently produce roughly 65,000 MW∙h of heat in the Northwest Territories and 110,000 MW∙h in Yukon. Nunavut is above the tree line and thus has no forests, although waste wood from packaging and construction is diverted from landfills and used for heat to a limited extent.

The future for biomass as a cornerstone energy source in the North is bright. The development of new efficient technologies has made wood a reliable source of energy for large-scale applications. Large wood pellet boilers can heat institutional building such as schools and offices. These types of boilers can also fuel district heating systems and generate electricity.

However, transportation and distribution systems for wood pellets are not well developed. This leads to higher transportation costs and vulnerability to possible supply chain interruptions. It is also extremely important that proper forest management practices be applied to ensure that the harvest of local wood supplies for this energy source remains sustainable.

The Northwest Territories Biomass Energy Strategy is intended to build on the growing interest in the territory for using wood and wood pellets. It promotes greater use of biomass as a clean and efficient source of heat and a means of creating a sustainable biomass economy employing northerners to harvest the heat energy they need.

Similarly, Yukon is developing a bioenergy strategy to provide a strategic approach for helping Yukon stakeholders achieve long-term economic and environmental benefits from biomass. There is considerable potential in Yukon to replace much of the fossil fuels used for heating buildings with wood.

First, district heating could potentially deliver heat to larger buildings in urban areas to replace the oil and propane predominately in current use. Wood could provide an alternative source of heat, in addition to electric heaters powered by surplus hydroelectricity or residual heat recovered from thermal electricity generation.

Second, development of bulk wood pellet production and delivery infrastructure in Yukon would allow smaller buildings, or those too far from a district energy grid, to produce the majority of their heat at a lower economic and environmental cost than with heating oil. Nunavut has very little in the way of biomass that could be potentially used for fuel. Biofuels made from fish waste from Nunavut’s emerging fishing industry might be an option in the future. Significant research is needed in this area.

Figure 7
Current and Planned Biomass Projects
Figure 7 outlines the current and planned biomass projects in the North.
Note: all graph data is from 2007.

 
Photos courtesy of Patrick Kane/Up Here, Dianne Villesèche/www.ravenink.ca and ArcticNet. © 2016 A Northern Vision