Canada awards $7.6 million to UBC’s biomass expansion project

By Erin Voegele | August 22, 2019

The Canadian government announced Aug. 19 it will provide $7.6 million to support the University of British Columbia’s biomass expansion project, which will increase the university’s renewable energy capacity.

According to UBC, the newly announced funding will support the $20.4 million expansion of its innovative bioenergy research demonstration facility (BRDF), which provides heat to campus buildings by repurposing clean wood waste from other outside processes and sources.

UBC said it will use the $7.6 million in federal money to purchase and install a new 12 MW biomass-fueled hot water combustion boiler by late fall of 2020.

Once the new boiler is operational, the BRDF will increase its heating production capacity to 20 MW and will provide up to 70 percent of annual thermal production for UBC’s hot water district energy system.

The upgraded system is expected to significantly reduce UBC’s dependence on natural gas while eliminating approximately 14,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. The project is also expected to save more than $1 million in annual operating costs.

According to UBC, the BRDF first became operational in 2021. The facility currently processes two to three truckloads of chipped clean wood waste daily using a gasification technology to produce 8.4 MW of thermal energy. That volume of energy accounts for approximately 25 percent of total annual thermal campus heating hot water needs each year and 100 percent in the summer months.

The $7.6 million in federal funding comes from the government of Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Fund, which invests in projects that reduce carbon pollution, save money and create good jobs in a clean economy. A statement released by Environment and Climate Change Canada indicates the UBC project has potential for replicability as other organizations, including university and college campuses, examine the potential for biomass to replace fossil fuels in existing district heating systems.

Additional information is available on the UBC website