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New Brunswick has untapped biomass-to-energy potential, says study

A new Université de Moncton report details New Brunswick’s potential for turning forest biomass into energy.


A new Université de Moncton report details New Brunswick’s potential for turning forest biomass into energy.

The Forest Biomass to Energy Atlas of New Brunswick (September 2012) report has found the annual potential harvest of forest biomass in the province to more than 15.5 million green metric tonnes (GMT).

According to the report, the total annual energy potential that would be available from residual forest biomass and bark is approximately 58.4 petajoules (PJ). One PJ is equivalent to 1,015 joules. When converted into electricity and heat, the residual biomass and bark could be used to generate 463 megawatts (MW) of electricity and more than 1,100 MW of heat that could cover 17 regions in the province.

“The forest biomass is an indigenous and renewable resource in New Brunswick, which offers great opportunities for energy production and for economic growth in the province’s rural areas,” announced Yves Gagnon, the K.C. Irving Chair of Sustainable Development at the Université de Moncton, in an October 22, 2012 statement to media.

The report also includes a set of resource maps that showcase potential locations to develop biomass resources for energy co-generation in the province. The highest annual potential harvest is located in the Plaster Rock procurement area and is estimated at more than 1.6 million GMT, the report states.

The report was written by Stéphane Bouchard, Mathieu Landry and Gagnon. It was produced in partnership with the Department of Energy and Mines.

“Our government is committed to achieving 40 per cent renewable energy generation by 2020, as laid out in the New Brunswick Energy Blueprint,” said Energy and Mines Minister Craig Leonard in an October 22, 2012 statement to media. “By providing these maps, we are working to ensure that communities, developers and industry have the best tools possible when seeking out locations to develop and utilize this resource. These maps will be a huge benefit in helping us reach and promote our renewable energy goals.”

The report was developed using existing annual allowable cut data from the forest industry, along with allometric equations and biomass expansion factors.

In its executive summary, the report states: “Finally, the New Brunswick forest biomass to energy atlas shows that the province of New Brunswick’s forest biomass resource has a good potential for the cogeneration of heat and power in industrial-sized forest biomass-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plants. This New Brunswick renewable resource should be developed not only for its environmental benefits and attributes, but also for the social and economic benefits of the residents of the province.”

—This article orginally appeared on Ecolog News for October 29, 2012—


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