Report: biomass CHP has potential in New Brunswick

By Anna Simet | October 30, 2012

New Brunswick’s forest biomass resources have good potential for the cogeneration of heat and power in industrial-sized, forest biomass-fired combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plants, according to a new report published by the New Brunswick Department of Energy and the Université de Moncton.

The framework of the study followed three main steps, including determining potential CHP plant locations and their corresponding procurement areas and transportation zones; determining amounts of available forest biomass (merchantable wood, residual forest biomass and bark) for all land ownerships; as well as determining the available quantities of forest biomass that can be annually harvested in each procurement area,  and the amount of heat and power that could be generated in potential CHP plants.

The methodology proposed in the study is based on forest inventory data, Annual Allowable Cuts, forest biomass equations and forest biomass expansion factors (stem wood to residual forest biomass or bark ratios).

Findings in the “Forest Biomass to Energy Atlas of New Brunswick” include an annual potential forest biomass harvest of about 15.5 million green metric tons. Approximately 63 percent of the total annual potential harvest would come from merchantable wood, 27 percent from residual forest biomass, and the remaining 10 percent from the bark.

The province’s total annual energy potential from residual forest biomass and bark is approximately 58.4 petajoules (PJ), according to the study. In terms of electric and thermal power potential, results show that if all the residual forest biomass and bark harvested annually in the province was to be used as fuel input in dedicated CHP plants, a total of 463 MW of electricity and 1,111 MW of thermal heat could be produced.

The report points out that in New Brunswick, forests cover nearly 85 percent of the landscape, with roughly 6 million hectares (14.8 million acres) being productive forests, and more than 16,500 people already work directly in forestry-related jobs. It concludes that future CHP development should pay particular attention to residual forest biomass and bark since it has remain largely untapped in the province.