Green Heat Initiative Launches To Support Development Of Rural and Remote Community Bioenergy Projects

Community Futures North Cariboo

2012- In northern British Columbia, natural gas distribution networks follow the main transportation corridors of Highway 97 and Highway 16. Due to the vast geography of the region, many northern communities are not within economical range of the natural gas network and are unable to access the resource to support local community and economic development. As a result, these communities rely on costly oil, propane, or electricity as a source of heat energy for commercial and institutional buildings. The inability of many rural and remote northern BC communities to access natural gas, combined with local access to wood fibre provides a natural market development opportunity for green heat technologies.

The Community Futures Development Corporation in the North Cariboo launched the Green Heat Initiative in 2009 to undertake a study that examines the viability of developing rural and remote community green heat systems. From this study, an initiative has been developed that allows communities to fully understand the costs of green heating programs.

Funding from Northern Development supported coordination, contracting, and management of the initiative, which will facilitate benefits to communities that cannot feasibly access the conventional natural gas or electricity grid within the region.

The Green Heat Initiative encourages those that are interested in this project to download the project's Phase 1 Final Report to learn how far the project has come since launch in helping northern and rural communities become more energy efficient.

"The use of local biomass for heating of commercial, municipal and institutional buildings as well as district energy systems has the potential significantly impact rural and remote communities. BC is taking advantage of an opportunity to replicate success in Europe that will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in energy savings for BC while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions."

David Dubois, Green Heat Initiative Project Coordinator, Community Futures North Cariboo

Positive Economic Impacts in the Cariboo

The cost advantages anticipated to come from the utilization of local-source wood fibre, such as pellets or wood chips to supply green heating systems are substantial in rural and remote locations. Wood pellets are produced throughout the region with a number of new pellet manufacturing projects planned. Wood chips can be easily and cost-effectively produced on-site using relatively inexpensive chipping technology or contracting locally owned and operated chipping or logging companies.

This study's focus is to provide guidance on establishing green heating projects for many public and private institutions in small communties including municipal buildings, colleges and schools, hospitals and care homes, hotels and motels, commercial buildings, and greenhouses in rural locations. The savings in power costs realized by switching from petroleum powered heating to biomass can be as much as fifty per cent. These savings can then be reinvested into communities to support priority projects, programs and initiatives.