Kwadcha First Nation searches funding to build biomass plant
Kwadcha First Nation in Canada is seeking financial help to build a small-scale biomass power plant to replace petroleum diesel with a sustainable alternative.
The Kwadcha community – one of two remote First Nations on the north end of Williston Lake, British Columbia – is looking to set up a biomass facility to produce around 145kW of electricity for its just over 300 residents.
The plant, if realised, would burn waste wood from a small sawmill located at the reserve in addition to other locally sourced forest products.
"What we're looking at is co-generation, green energy, to burn wood waste to offset the electricity [from diesel] and heat some buildings and a greenhouse we're building," Chief Donny Van Somer told Alaska Highway News. "We're trying to get off fossil fuels as much as possible."
The Kwadcha plant is not without precedent, as West Fraser Mills in Chetwynd operates another facility, which burns waste wood from the company’s mill at the same location.
The Kwadcha nation has signed a 20-year energy purchase agreement with BC Hydro, which currently operates the off-grid settlement’s diesel generators.
Chief Van Somer hopes that the biomass plant would bring considerable savings, even if it will not replace diesel power completely.
"It would offset, and also create a couple jobs," he said.
The Kwadcha nation has already received support from the Peace River Regional District, which supported its C$250,000 (€168,803) grant application to the Northern Development Initiative Trust.
The biomass facility is expected to cost around C$4 million, of which the Kwadcha nation will contribute just over C$410,000.
"This project is expected to be a source of pride for the community as it will provide job creation, economic development, reduce greenhouse gases, and improve local air quality," regional district staff wrote in a report.
Van Somer said there were many people in Kwadacha excited for biomass.
"As isolated as we are, the more self-sufficient we can be, the better," he said.