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Ontario company to co-locate biomass power, pellets

By Lisa Gibson | October 24, 2011

Huntsville, Ontario, could be the site for a co-located, 10-megawatt (MW) biomass power plant and 8-metric-ton-per-hour wood pellet plant, if the proper equity partner can be found to move on with development.

BalanceCO2 Ltd. has proposed the $50 million project, intending to use sawmill and forest residues. Whole trees will be used for pellet production and limbs, bark and tops for power generation through gasification, according to Selva Kumar, BalanceCO2 partner. Heat produced at the power plant will be used in the pellet mill and excess power will be sold to the grid, he added.

“We believe that this biomass-to-energy project is exactly the type of renewable energy project that Ontario had in mind when they conceived the Feed-In Tariff Program to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels,” he said.

The project will require about 226,000 metric tons of woody biomass per year, 47 percent used for pellet manufacturing and the remaining 120,000 metric tons for generating power. “We have conducted a preliminary biomass feedstock assessment, which clearly indicates that ample feedstock is available within a 100-kilometer radius of the proposed project site,” Kumar said.

Pellet customers have not yet been identified, he said, but BalanceCO2 will conduct feasibility studies evaluating pellet markets in Canada and internationally.

“Currently we are in the development phase of the project,” Kumar said. “We have identified a suitable site and have signed a memorandum of understanding with the landowner. The site is approximately 100 acres and adjacent to grid lines. We have had meetings with Hydro One to review the site's suitability to accept the addition of 10 MW of power to the grid.  The initial feedback was positive; the next step is to apply for the FIT contract.”

A timeline for completion and operation has not yet been developed, given that financing is not yet in place and the FIT contract involves a lengthy review process, but Kumar said the company hopes the plants will be operational by the end of 2013.