UBC receives $11.2 million for CHP project

By Lisa Gibson | March 02, 2011

Freshly armed with another round of federal and provincial government funding, the University of British Columbia’s combined-heat-and-power system is on track to be operational in 2012.

A groundbreaking ceremony held February 24 also served as a venue for the announcement of $11.2 million (US $11.5 million) in funding for the $27 million system that will produce 2 megawatts of electricity and provide up to 25 percent of the campus’s heating demand. The project, dubbed Bioenergy Research Demonstration Project is a partnership with Vancouver-based Nexterra Systems Corp. and General Electric Co.

At the ceremony, Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification announced $10.2 million in federal support. “Investing in clean energy technologies stimulates the growth of a domestic clean energy industry, creating high-quality jobs for Canadians,” she said. “Moving forward aggressively with investments in clean energy technologies will help us balance our need for energy with our need to protect the environment.”

On the provincial level, John Yap, British Columbia Minister of State for Climate Action, announced $1 million in new support, adding to the $4.5 million the province allocated for the project last year. Yap called the project an incredible example of partnership that helps establish British Columbia as a leader in the development of creative energy solutions.

BRDP is part of the campus’s plan to reduce institutional greenhouse gas emissions from 2007 levels by 33 percent by 2015, 67 percent by 2020 and 100 percent by 2050. The project will use Nexterra’s gasification technology and a GE Jenbacher engine, powered by woody biomass such as tree trimmings, wood chips and other urban wood waste diverted from local landfills. UBC has signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Vancouver, which will provide about 5,000 metric tons (5,500 tons) per year of tree chips from its municipal operations, according to UBC. Other potential fuel sources include fiber from beetle-killed pine and clean wood waste from British Columbia sawmills.

Funding for BRDP has come from the BC Bioenergy Network, Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Energy Fund, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, FPInnovations, British Columbia’s Innovative Clean Energy Fund, Western Economic Diversification Canada, BC Ministry of Forests, Canadian Wood Council, Nexterra, GE and UBC, according to the university. The project will also provide learning and research opportunities for the school’s students and faculty. Research collaborators include the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, the Clean Energy Research Centre, the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, the Faculty of Applied Science, and the Sauder School of Business.