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Manitoba proposed rules encourage biomass power

By Anna Austin
Posted August 24, 2010, at 11:08 a.m. CST

New regulations proposed by the Manitoba government aim to improve air quality in the province while encouraging the use of natural biomass materials as fuel.

Manitoba Conservation Minister Bill Blaikie made the announcement August 23, emphasizing that the new rules would help make the air cleaner and also streamline the approval process for new clean energy systems such as biomass, as a heat and power source to replace fossil fuels.

Thermal treatment technologies included in the proposal are combustion, gasification and pyrolysis. Blaikie added that the proposed laws would make biomass-based systems more attractive to industry by putting in place a simpler and faster permit system.

The regulations would also level the playing field for biomass thermal systems currently competing with fossil-fuel based incineration systems, by requiring additional air quality protection.

Manitoba Hydro Senior Bio Systems Engineer Dennis St. George agreed with Blaikie that the new incinerator rules will help promote the use of biomass and other wastes as fuels for heat and power generation in Manitoba." I'm also sure that customers who are currently relying on incineration to dispose of their waste materials will appreciate having Manitoba Hydro's Power Smart Bioenergy Optimization Program available to add value to their business," he said.

Manitoba Hydro, the fourth-largest utility in Canada and largest exporter of electricity to the U.S., , currently runs the Power Smart Bioenergy Optimization Program to provide financial incentives to customers that are interested in converting their raw forms of biomass-typically biomass already available on-site-to produce energy, displacing some or all of the energy purchased from Manitoba Hydro. "With the utility's capacity links to the U.S., we can then put this energy into the U.S. market where it offers better value," St. George said.

"Overall, every little push forward helps the biomass-to-energy sector move ahead," St. George said. "In general, the biomass-to-energy sector has not received the same attention as the other renewables like wind and solar. To date, there hasn't been an even playing field for biomass to energy and typically projects have relied solely on the project benefits to move ahead. Policy and markets are two key areas that influence the potential for biomass energy."

The Manitoba government has posted the proposed regulations on its website for public comment until Sept. 30. They can be viewed at www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/eal/news.html.
 

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