West Fraser sawmills awarded 20-year PPA

By Luke Geiver | May 10, 2012

West Fraser Timber Co. in British Columbia has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with utilities provider BC Hydro for electricity produced at its proposed 13 MW Chetwynd, B.C., Forest Industries biomass plant. 

The plant will employ Pratt & Whitney Power Systems’ Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology. 

Peter Rippon, vice president for pulp and energy at West Fraser, said he is proud to contribute to British Columbia’s energy objectives. “Not only are we improving our own plant’s energy efficiency and reducing GHG emissions, we’re also helping the province achieve its goal of electricity self-sufficiency and generating electricity from clean or renewable resources,” he said.  

The Chetwynd facility will employ two ORC units, each producing 6.5 MW. The units use organic fluid instead of steam to drive a turbo-generator, allowing them to work in a closed-loop system that uses low to moderate temperatures for electricity generation, and helps reduce emissions, based on its ability to run on evaporation processes in an enclosed set-up. The ORC units will run on thermal oil produced from residual hog fuel sourced from the plant meeting roughly 50-60 percent of the biomass needs. The rest of the biomass feedstock will be purchased from other logging operations in the region.

The Chetwynd facility wasn’t the only one to receive a 20-year PPA from BC Hyrdo. Others signing agreements include: West Fraser’s 12 MW Fraser Lake Sawmill Biomass Project; two facilities owned by Western BioEnergy Inc.; Merritt Green Energy’s 40 MW plant in Merritt, B.C.; and the 40 MW Fort St. James Green Energy facility in Fort St. James, B.C. 

To earn the 20-year contracts, the projects had to produce more than 5 MW and feature a number of different aspects, ranging from interconnection availability to the ability to operate without transferring biomass fuel price risk to BC Hydro.

According to Pratt & Whitney, the ORC units will be delivered to West Fraser at the end of 2013 with commissioning set for 2014. By the second quarter of 2014, the units will be running.