A lumber mill in Northern BC has converted a beehive burner that has not been used for over a decade into a bio-energy opportunity. The burner was once used to burn waste such as bark and sawdust from the mill, but is now being used to turn that waste in wood pellets.
The Nechako Lumber sawmill in Vanderhoof, BC is also spending close to $7 million to install a one-of-a-kind high-efficiency generator that creates electrical energy from a separate bark-burning thermal system. The energy produced from this generator will not only be enough to power the recently installed pellet plant, but will also produce enough energy to operate the kilns in the mill.
“The system will produce 1.8 megawatts of electricity for the pellet plant, or enough power to supply 1,360 homes — roughly the number of homes in Vanderhoof,” reported the Vancouver Sun.
“This is relatively low-cost power,” John Rustad, Nechako Lakes MLA said in an interview. “The beauty here is that there is no cost to the fuel. No cost of transporting the fibre, no cost of handling the fibre. All of that is already done as part of the mill operation so you are just capturing what was considered waste and generating power from it.”
Nechako is just one of many companies across the world who are converting un-used or un-wanted waste into bio-energy and finding the positive side of a pulp and paper sector that is experiencing an
Alan Fitzpatrick, president of Nechako Green Energy – the company contracted to provide the mill with clean, carbon-neutral power – said turning waste into energy is a viable solution for companies looking to capitalize on a changing industry.
“We have excess thermal heat in the energy system,” Fitzpatrick said. “We wanted to find a way to be more energy-efficient and more cost-efficient in our operation. We try to utilize every bit of fibre we have on the site. It came down to ‘how do we utilize a resource that’s basically excess heat.’