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BC university receiving heat, hot water from new biomass plant

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A new biomass plant in Canada is now in full operation, providing heat and hot water to Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Burnaby campus and around half of the UniverCity community.

The plant has drastically reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, said the university, making it a leader in the use of green energy with one of the smallest GHG footprints of any university in Canada.

Developed in partnership with Corix Utilities, a developer and operator of district energy systems, the $33 million high-efficiency plant utilises wood waste, once destined for landfill, into a low carbon energy source providing heat and hot water. The fuel is made of clean wood waste, such as wood chips and shavings, from harvested log processing, local urban wood waste and construction projects. The biomass is delivered to the site, located on SFU’s South Campus road, during off-peak traffic hours.

“SFU Burnaby’s GHG emissions from heating are expected to drop by 80%, the equivalent of emissions from 900 homes every year,” said Larry Waddell, chief facilities officer at SFU.

“This facility will also allow SFU to achieve 97% of the province’s 2050 GHG target, making SFU one of the public sector leaders in Canada in reducing GHG emissions.

“I’m grateful for our partnerships with the Province of British Columbia, Corix Utilities, and SFU Community Trust in taking this plant from idea to reality, to benefit our SFU community and local environment.”

Travis Hickford-Kulak, president of Energy Services Canada, Corix Utilities, commented: “The SFU biomass plant is representative of the many exciting advances being made in renewable and district energy technology, and how we’ll need to design and build communities if we’re to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

“We’re very proud to have partnered with SFU, the SFU Community Trust, the province, and other stakeholders, in bringing this innovative project to fruition.”

SFU received a $4.75 million Public Sector Energy Conservation Agreement grant from the Province of British Columbia to assist with financing the project. The plant was financed and constructed, and is owned and operated by Cortix Utilities and regulated by the BC Utilities Commission.