Manitoba Hydro, the Canadian gas and electricity company, has started a large scale project to get its customers to use biomass to fuel both heat and power systems. The company targets 250 of its agricultural and industrial customers with the Bioenergy Optimization Program. All of these customers have access to readily available, low cost sources of biomass and the capability to operate biomass to energy conversion systems.
The program provides incentives for participants to undertake feasibility studies and for the capital cost of the required equipment, up to a maximum of $1.250.000.
Technologies employed to produce useful energy from biomass include direct combustion – such as burning waste wood in a boiler to produce steam for powering a generator/heat exchanger at a forestry mill – and anaerobic digestion, which converts manure in a digester to produce biogas (methane) for fueling an internal combustion engine driven generator/heat exchanger. Mostly used in hog farming, anaerobic digestion can replace natural gas and other non-renewable heating fuels to power space and water heating or other industrial processes.
Manitoba Hydro expects to achieve annual load reduction savings of up to 10 megawatts and 78 gigawatt-hours of electricity and 3.8 million cubic metres of natural gas, and 65,580 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2017/18.
Manitoba Hydro will provide customers with technical and economic information about biomass to energy conversion systems to assist them in making a decision about participation.
The customers save on costs by using biomass for their energy needs. Sources include waste wood, crop residues and livestock manure. What’s more, the companies also avoid traditional waste disposal costs associated with dumping their garbage in landfills, land spreading and uncontrolled burning. That means that they reduce greenhouse gas emissions both locally and in the region too.
“We are pleased to continue to develop and support alternative renewal energy sources and technologies such as biomass,” according to Greg Selinger, minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro who was quoted on Checkbiotech.org. “The use of biomass will result in savings to customers, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide new economic development opportunities for our rural communities.”
The company has been actively promoting similar programs to achieve energy efficiency via Power Smart programs since 1991. Since then Manitobans have prevented over 965 000 tonnes of carbon equivalents from being released into the atmosphere and have saved about $275 million on their energy bills.