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May 2004

Forest Expo Index

Using the FULL forest resource

The Bio Energy Conference and Exhibition that is being held with Forest Expo this year reinforces the strong interest in using the full forest resource.

The two-day Bio Energy Conference and Exhibition held in conjunction with Forest Expo this year underscores the growing interest in utilizing the full richness of the forest resource.

The City of Prince George is in the vanguard of such progressive thinking as reflected by its proposed community energy system for the downtown area. The idea is to use wood residues to fire a hot water energy distribution and transfer system to a potential user base of more than 20 large buildings. The principal feedstock will be bark, possibly supplemented by log yard debris. White wood residue use will be restricted to leave the material for other uses such as making pellets, explains Gina Layte-Liston, environmental co-ordinator for the City of Prince George.

The city system will be geared to handle residues with a wide range of moisture contents. The energy system will have a start-up capacity of five megawatts and all the required bark and other material will come from primary wood product manufacturers in and around Prince George. The city began working on the project in 2000. Last year, it migrated through the expression of interest stage from prospective partners with the city in the energy system, and the pre-qualification process for interested parties. “Now we have one group we’re negotiating with,” says Layte-Liston.

The project is slated for a fall, 2006 start-up. Federal assistance for the project is being sought. Essentially, it’ll be a utility that should pay its own way. Meanwhile, engineering work continues to determine the pipe size used to distribute the water and its optimum temperature. Probable customer buildings are those using hot water-based energy systems. They include other city buildings, federal facilities, privately owned structures, School District 57-owned properties and the Prince George Regional Hospital. Layte-Liston says the energy distribution is estimated to cost $7 million and transfer systems would be set up in participating buildings. “We hope to enter long-term agreements with our customers so they know the price horizons,” she says. Stable energy costs makes budgeting easier, she adds. The real beauty of the system is that it’s clean and highly efficient, she continues. Andeasily transferable.

Layte-Liston notes that similar closed-loop hot water systems in Europe are used to transport the hot water up to 64 kilometres with only a one degree loss in temperature. The City of Prince George would like to install the piping for the bark-fired energy system at the same time as another forward-looking project. The city-run Utilidor project is a sophisticated, high-speed, fibre optic telecommunications system. It will allow—when operational–downtown businesses and government offices to access the Prince George Transit Exchange information network housed at city hall. Installing both underground projects simultaneously will prevent digging up the road system twice and in the process save taxpayers money and driving inconvenience.

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