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Monday, 5 May 2014

Conversion to biomass intensifies on Prince Edward Island

Following is an English translation of the Radio Canada news piece that was done by Kent South NSG  using Google Translator. We apologize for any translation errors, but the gist of article is the same.  Congratulations to this Cocagne native and his passion to make a difference.

Prince Edward Island is using forest residues to heat its schools and hospitals, and the craze for this source of stable and economic energy is growing.  The heating system of new schools, hospitals and homes are already converted to use biomass. More than a dozen other institutions will follow within two years.  Biomass is the cheapest source of energy. The savings are on average 15% to 20 % compared to fossil fuels. The island government saves $ 120,000 per year in heating costs.

In New Brunswick , the contractor Mathieu LeBlanc is cutting of trees of lower quality to allow more room for trees to live longer and have greater commercial value, such as spruce, maple, white pine. Wood that has no capacity for sawing is being made ​​into paper or chips.

"My logging practices can heat a school for one year with the amount of biomass that is being cut every two weeks ," said Mathieu LeBlanc.

Mathieu LeBlanc cut the wood in New Brunswick , but it is on the Island of Prince Edward Island that transforms and sells chips to produce energy.

The chips are delivered by another Acadian, Dick Arsenault of the Evangeline region.  It was he who developed the boilers that will burn the wood chips for space heating and water heating.

"It's been seven years since I worked on the design and concept. It took a lot of time in the beginning to make them see what I wanted to do.  We have already installed five systems, and has more coming on line, "says Dick Arsenault, ACFOR of Energy.

Dick Arsenault and Mathieu LeBlanc work as a small energy company . They do not sell the chips or the boiler.  It costs the province nothing to convert to biomass.  The government will pay only for the energy that its buildings consume. That is where the concept is revolutionary.

"It costs them nothing . It cost the province nothing to the province. This is our own money. There is no government money in these projects. The only thing we require is a 20-yeR contract to heat the school. It's really appealing for them. It costs them nothing in capital."
-Dick Arsenault, ACFOR Energy

The cost of energy from wood chips is not influenced by international markets as is the case for gas or oil. The cost can fluctuate with the exception of inflation. This provides energy that is more stable.

"Biomass is produced locally, so you do not need to import [ oil ] or natural gas. That is why it is much cheaper.  It is not tied to global markets.  The technology and existing forests to produce wood chips is available locally, so no need to plant.  This is why the cost of biomass is less. "
- Mathieu LeBlanc , entrepreneur

When Mathieu LeBlanc and Dick Arsenault began in 2008,  few people believed in their project. In the midst of economic crisis and forestry, factories closed one after the other. Today the situation has changed.

In Finland, 85% of renewable energy comes from forest biomass.  Mathieu LeBlanc believes that it is quite conceivable achieve the same in Canada. "The Finns converted when they were cut off from [oil] by Russia. Finland has many forests. Yes, it is very conceivable.", he said.

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