Bio-mass is the word
By Cindy McKay
Friday February 09, 2007 Interlake Spectator
Bibeau uses this leafy prop to make a point about the potential found in
The St. Laurent
Sustainable Energy committee has jumped on the
environment wave as they presented their Bio-Mass District Heating Project
overview to about 40 people Feb. 5.
A brief history of the project was provided by chairperson Frieda
Krpan. After only five months since the idea was first conceived, the committee
has been busy meeting with key players, government officials and gaining support
from various sources.
It was at an alternative energy tour in North Dakota where I saw a
presentation by Dennis St. George talking about the bio-mass district heating
project that made the whole tour worthwhile, Krpan said of her trip last year.
It was amazing that a Manitoba Hydro
promote alternative energy to replace electricity. We met with hydro reps and it
just snowballed from there.
Before long, the organization had funding
for the feasibility study sourced from CEDEM, the RM of St. Laurent and from the
government Rural Enhancement Development Initiative
(REDI) program. It
also gained endorsement from Manitoba Hydro, MAFRI Minister Rosann
Minister Stan Struthers
; Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick and
Selkirk-Interlake MP James Bezan
Tower engineering has started the feasibility
study and a final report will be ready as early as March.
central heating system to several public and private buildings within the RM of
St. Laurent is the objective of the bio-mass project. This would be done by
purchasing a gas displacement system that would burn straw, wood or manure,
depending on available bio-mass material. This gassifier would burn the
available bio-mass material at a high temperature which would in turn heat a
large water boiler. In order to heat buildings, pipes and radiators would be
used to carry and conduct heat to area buildings.
Under the proposed project, the unit would heat the recreation centre,
arena, assisted living centre, the future Business Development Centre, the
school and proposed new DSFM school, 29 homes in the Manitoba Housing
development, the Parish Hall and Rectory and RM buildings.
An estimated overview of cost savings from the current heat source of more
than $6 million would be reduced to about $480,000 with an estimate capital
investment of about $2 million.
created Biomass Energy
System Technology┬ (BEST)
greenhouse gas displacement
heating system several years ago and has been using it successfully at the Vidir
Machine manufacturing plant, north of Arborg to heat the manufacturing plant and
warehouse since 1999.
The BEST is a two-stage heating system. The straw
bales are shredded and put into a fire which produces smoke into the second
chamber where we burn the smoke. These gasses burn at about 2,000 to 2,900
degrees Fahrenheit, explained Vidir Biomass
Rempel. When smoke is burnt at this high heat, the small amount of emissions are
reduced to carbon dioxide and water.
The technology has been widely accepted in Denmark for years with large
heat pipes built like pipelines above ground to provide the utility to
residents. Similar units are already in place in Toronto and Hamilton, Ont.
With the St. Laurent project, the potential to utilize these emissions
into a greenhouse atmosphere sparked a huge market potential for fresh
vegetables and flowers over the inclement seasons and throughout the winter.
Krpan said the committee has been in touch with Peak of the Market and they
expressed an interest in the project.
When people think of alternative energy, they think of solar and wind,
but bio-mass is the second most renewable fuel source with the first being the
largest, hydro, claims Dr. Eric Bibeau.
is a professor of mechanical engineering at the U of
Manitoba and also chair of the alternative energy committee at Manitoba Hydro.
He firmly believes in the science and cost effectiveness of bio-mass.
When there is a peak in the oil prices, bio-fuels, bio-ethanol and
bio-diesel take about 70 days to grow whereas fossil fuels ... 70 million years,
Bibeau said. We are so far behind the Europeans. In Europe, the standard fuel
they use is [bio-mass produced.]
Showing pictures of a pellet truck
backed into a home, he shows how individual units keep houses warm in several
countries. The maintenance-free system is outfitted with a low fuel indicator
which alerts the truck to restock the supply. The system available requires
little or no maintenance to homeowners while they benefit from an economic
The St. Laurent system would burn about 2,400 bales a year. While that
may sound like a lot, the straw plant in Elie eats up 180,000 bales and there
are still fields burnt each fall with unbaled straw.
St. Laurent would become a national leader in saving
our environment. People would come from all over to see the system and all
levels of governments are interested in increasing grants for these projects,
said Tower Engineering's Greg Jorgensen.