Act first, study later?

Today, Premier Gordon Campbell announced his government is getting into bioenergy in a big way. And, as part of that initiative, the "biomass created out of the mountain pine beetle outbreak" is being promoted as a resource that could be used to "stimulate investment and economic diversification while producing clean energy." But what Mr. Campbell didn't mention is that "from an air contaminant point of view, wood combustion can lead to releases of significant amounts of particulate matter" - which can pose "health risks" to British Columbians. And the environment ministry is only just now getting around to hiring a consultant to study the "expected (contaminant and greenhouse gas) emissions from all biomass combustion/gasification systems" - as well as their "emissions reduction potential." All this, according to a request for proposal posted on BC Bid just six days ago. Fancy that! The following is a complete copy of the relevant portion of that bid.

Introduction and Background

The combustion of wood is carbon (greenhouse gas) neutral as long as the wood is sustainability harvested. Thus, there are obvious benefits to promoting use of this resource to generate energy. However, from an air contaminant point of view, wood combustion can lead to releases of significant amounts of particulate matter (especially PM10 and PM2.5). The most significant health risks to air quality posed by wood combustion are associated with the fine particulates, in particular "inhalable" particulates < 10 μm in diameter and "respirable" particulates < 2.5 μm in diameter.

There are several airshed management plans in place throughout the province that are intended to provide a multi-stakeholder process for coordinating activities in an airshed - to identify and meet community supported air quality goals. The Ministry has committed to a target of achieving or maintaining Canada Wide Standards (CWS) for PM2.5 and ozone in all monitored communities by 2010. To achieve this target, new establishments may be required to meet more stringent specified air emission requirements, based on: 1) specific air quality concerns within an airshed where an airshed management plan is being developed or implemented; or 2) whether the location is within an airshed falling under the "keeping clean areas clean" commitment in the Canada Wide Standards. The overall commitment to provincial air quality is significant. The province of BC has committed to five great goals. Number 4 is to "Lead the world in sustainable environmental management, with the best air and water quality, and the best fisheries management, bar none."

British Columbia has considerable biomass fuel reserves, particularly as a result of the recent mountain pine beetle infestation. The February 27, 2007 BC Energy Plan identified bioenergy as a potential energy source as part of a clean renewable future along with geothermal, tidal, run-of-river and wind power. BC Hydro is expected to issue a call for independent power projects by April 1, 2008 focused on converting biomass to electricity. It is anticipated that prospective proponents will want to know what BC's emission limits will be so that design criteria and cost estimates can be prepared.

The lumber, pulp and paper industry sectors have traditionally used biomass fuel. The Ministry is in the process of developing a code of practice (Ministers Regulation) for the primary wood manufacturing industry ( and emission limits for biomass combustion are to be included. Discharges from Pulp Mill operations are covered by Ministry permits. Jurisdictional reviews of both industry sectors have been completed. A detailed investigation for what current technology is capable of with respect to emission discharge performance is not included in these reviews.

Purpose and Tasks

The purpose of this contract is to investigate biomass combustion practices and produce a background report for government agency policy development. Supporting research will focus solely on sources with a rated capacity greater than 0.1 MW, (excluding residential units and wood fired hydronic heaters).

The contractor will review biomass combustion practices from feedstock preparation to emission discharge and prepare a report that:

* Compares air emission performance for various biomass combustion technologies (based on recent stack sampling data and other relevant sources); feedstocks; and after treatment for various rated sizes or capacities (greater than 0.1 MW) and for a variety of applications (e.g. heating; power generation; cogeneration; greenhouse heating);

* Includes an assessment of information from other jurisdictions particularly information made available by the Ministry of Environment;

* Indicates the expected emissions from all biomass combustion/gasification systems and practices, in use, in demonstration or in R&D domestically and internationally, including consideration for various feedstocks and exhaust gas after treatment options. For each, note the key characteristics which would affect the decision to choose that option, including:

* Application
* Emissions reduction potential (the following pollutants should be taken into consideration: criteria air contaminants (CACs), greenhouse gases (GHGs), and toxic air contaminants (notably dioxins, furans and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)).
* Capital expenditure;
* Cost recovery;
* Operating cost;
* Feedstock availability and reliability;
* Ancillary benefits (fuel savings, operational efficiencies, maintenance savings); and
* Lifecycle considerations on air or other environmental media - include discussion of any considerations unique to Canada or regions of Canada.

* Provides a comparison of air emissions from current biomass combustion and control technologies, with non-biomass technologies (such as natural gas and oil combustion).

* Indicates achievable emission levels for logical size categories (i.e. megawatts output) for biomass combustion units.

* Includes, for comparative purposes, relevant currently used or business-as-usual non-biomass technologies and best-available non-biomass technologies. For each, include the same key characteristics noted above. For example, include expected emissions using best practices and technologies using natural gas as a fuel for various applications.


The contactor will provide bi-weekly telephone or email progress reports on work being undertaken and planned to producing the final report.

By March 1, 2008, the contactor will produce a draft report for initial review by the Ministry. The report is to detail all sources of information investigated with enough information to easily track down the source (web link, report, individual contact person, etc.) and is to lay out the sources of information used to arrive at logical end conclusions. The contractor will produce one (1) final electronic (i.e. MS_WORD) and six (6) hardcopy reports in English by March 31, 2008.

From February 1, 2008 to March 31, 2008.


Gordo is having another Vision. Someone was calling him "The Oracle from Point Gray a few days ago.

This site has become lame and boring. Small wonder why few comment here anymore. Why not just post a giant size link to BC Bid and we can all troll there when we are bored.

Bring back beehive burners, a BC fixture 30 to 40 years ago and use them to burn the biomass to make energy

Leave a comment

Copyright © 2004 - Public Eye Mediaworks. Reproductions of any portion of this Website are permitted only with the expressed permission of Public Eye Mediaworks.
Canadian Web Hosting graciously provided by dotcanuck Web Services. Layout and graphics courtesy of Art Department Design.