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Logging and Sawmilling Journal October/November 2011

August/September 2013

On the Cover:
Managing mobile equipment effectively is a key part of an efficient sawmill. B.C.’s S & R Sawmills is finding that investing in new Cat wheel loaders from Caterpillar equipment dealer Finning is paying off in reduced fuel costs. See the October issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journal for a full report on the new wheel loaders at
S & R (Photo of S & R Sawmills millyard by Paul MacDonald).

Home-grown wood pellets for NWT?
The Northwest Territories sees a business opportunity for home-grown wood pellet production with the growing use of wood pellet heating, supported by a strategy to reduce greenhouse gases.

L & M Lumber: a tradition of innovation
A mill upgrade at B.C.’s L & M Lumber—involving a new optimized log breakdown and processing line—positions the independent producer well for recovering lumber markets, and continues a tradition of innovation and improvement.

Tackling tough B.C. roadbuilding
Mark Ponting and his construction crews tackle building logging road in some of the toughest ground in the country, on the B.C. Coast, and they rely on their equipment dealers to help out in minimizing equipment downtime when they are “miles from nowhere”.

Mistik manages growing wood demand
Saskatchewan’s Mistik Management is adapting to the growing timber needs of the NorSask Forest Products mill, which is adding a shift, and is going to require twice as much wood—but it’s a challenge they’re very happy to have.

How does your kiln system stack up?
With mill management always on the lookout to improve their drying operations, it was no surprise that a recent kiln drying seminar in Quebec City drew good attendance, and lively conversations.

OSB on the way up
The market for Oriented Strand Board has improved with the recovery of the U.S. housing market, and Ainsworth Lumber—which is in the process of being purchased by forestry giant Louisiana-Pacific Corp.— is looking at ramping up its OSB operations to meet the increased demand.

Bring on the wood ...
The Miramichi Lumber sawmill in New Brunswick has recently completed an upgrade, including an entirely new small log saw line, and is now raring to go to meet recovering lumber markets.

Turning biomass power on,
diesel off
A wood biomass-fired power system in the works in the small village of Kwadacha, B.C. could be a model for other remote communities looking to wean off costly diesel and propane for power production.

Rolling with the changes
Logger Clint Lightburn is rolling with the changes as forest company Canfor is asking its contractors in southeastern B.C. to move from delivering tree length wood to cut-to-length to its upgraded mill facility at Elko.

The Edge
Included in The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

Tech Update – Mill Wide Information Systems
LSJ looks at the technology and systems available to help mill management better manage and operate mills.

The Last Word
Jim Stirling takes a look at the debate surrounding the creation of more area based forest licences in British Columbia.

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A wood biomass-fired power system in the works in the small village of Kwadacha, B.C. Turning biomass power on, diesel off

A wood biomass-fired power system in the works in the small village of Kwadacha, B.C. could be a model for other remote communities looking to wean off costly diesel and propane for power production.

By Jim Stirling

Taking readily available wood fibre, fusing it with technology and using the resultant green energy to help wean their isolated community from fossil fuel dependence just makes sense to the people of Kwadacha.

If all goes well, the First Nation community about 590 kilometres north of Prince George, British Columbia, will have within a couple of years a wood biomass-fired combined heat and power system tailored to the requirements of its approximately 320 residents. Along the way, the estimated $6 million Kwadacha project will pioneer a template power solution for other communities off the grid and dependent upon expensive imported diesel and propane for basic power provision.

Using wood to produce power is an important environmental issue for the people of Kwadacha, explained Donny Van Somer, chief of the Kwadacha Band. “As a First Nation, we live on—and from —the land. Using green energy looks after the air and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. This project will make our community a little less—or not dependent at all—on fossil fuels,” outlined Van Somer.

According to statistics from 2011, Kwadacha consumed 953,000 litres of diesel for power and electric baseboard heating and 170,000 litres of propane for heating village buildings like the school and store.

Wood fibre availability studies at Kwadacha, including one by FPInnovations, indicate an ample supply of woody biomass to support the combined heat and power requirements of the system proposed for the village.

The mountain pine beetle epidemic has taken its toll on the forests surrounding Kwadacha during its relentless march through B.C. “This project will allow us to clean up the dead stuff around the outskirts of the community,” said Van Somer. “And help control the forest fire risk.” Van Somer anticipates bringing in a logging contractor to Kwadacha to harvest about 30,000 cubic metres of timber and stockpiling it, if the right deal can be brokered. “We have people with falling and bucking experience in the village but no logging equipment.”

A portable log chipper will also be required to reduce the material to a 1.5 to 2.5 inch size and less than 15 per cent moisture content for use in the heat/power system. Van Somer reckons a couple of extra jobs will be created on the log/fuel generation side and a couple more tending a greenhouse so Kwadacha can produce some of its own fresh produce. “We have to order the food in and by the time it reaches Kwadacha, it has a limited shelf life,” noted the chief. It’s also expensive.

The Kwadacha Band and its partners in the heat/power project are working with BC Hydro to develop an energy purchase agreement for surplus power produced by the biomass system. BC Hydro operates the community’s existing diesel generator. “We’re also approaching BC Hydro to help us. This project will save them money. We’ll have a self-sufficient community or close to it, in energy production,” pointed out Van Somer. “I feel if BC Hydro explained that properly to the B.C. Utilities Commission, it will make sense to them.”

The B.C. Bioenergy Network (BCBN) has been working long and hard on the Kwadacha file to move it toward reality. The BCBN has been assisted in its endeavours by other partners including the B.C. First Nations Energy and Mining Council, the B.C. First Nations Forestry Council and the B.C. government. “We think this small scale wood biomass-fueled system makes great sense for remote communities,” explained Michael Weedon, the BCBN’s executive director. Weedon anticipates a three phase introduction of the combined heat and power system proposed for Kwadacha. The first phase would be a wood-fired generator capable of supplying about 10 per cent of Kwadacha’s electrical needs.

“It’s been proven technology in Europe for three years with about 150 installations and a combined one million operating hours,” explained Weedon. The second phase is the testing of a larger load-following system capable of responding to all the village’s power needs. The third and final phase would see the successfully tested system installed in Kwadacha.

Weedon said the system testing process will be for at least 8000 hours of operation at a forest products company in the Prince George area which couldn’t be named at the time of interview. If it passes muster and is installed at Kwadacha, it will be its first commercial application in Canada.

A firm timetable for the Kwadacha project is elusive. For one thing, it requires BC Hydro to commit. “Our goal is to get things going this year (2013),” reported Weedon, “and get some of the basic infrastructure in place. We’ve done the heavy lifting and now it’s time for decisions to be made.”

 

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