Sunday, June 2, 2013

Wood Power Generation Contemplation

My present circumstance has brought me into the Lac Le Jeune area South of Kamloops. As a part of my daily routine I find myself in the woods walking my dogs regularly. As an individual with entrepreneurial ideations; it is seldom that “recreation” fails to result in the observation of a business opportunity. 
The most striking thing in this area, and many others in British Columbia, is the abundance of dead and downed wood fiber; both, in the logged areas with their residual fiber and in the standing forests. The Pine Beetle has left vast tracts of forest dead in its wake; generating a situation that offers salvage of the affected trees possible. Presently the timber affected by Pine Beetle offers viability as a saw log, but the window for use as sawlogs is coming to a close. One is then faced with the question of what to do with this fiber and other waste fiber at large in the forest.



I have had limited exposure to individuals that have installed Co-generation plants that burn wood waste from milling processes, to both generate electricity and to use heat for kilns and the like. This has led me to begin contemplating the possibility of a standalone wood electrical generation station. 

Preliminary investigation, very preliminary, indicates a favorable opportunity. I have reviewed some modeling done by BC Hydro around a centralized plant that relies on a large catchment area to supply fiber (2010 Resource Options Report - Wood Based Biomass Potential Report). The model was generated with an installed capacity of 35 megawatts. The business model as depicted offers some challenges to viability, one of the primary challenges is related to the transport of fiber over long distances.

This spurred the contemplation of a smaller mobile plant that could be readily relocated to areas of high fiber concentration and where there is a confluence of other required operational components, by way of example, BC hydro power lines of sufficient capacity to meet the transmission demands of the plant and perhaps water resources.



In adapting the BC Hydro model to the mobile plant, and then performing sensitivity analysis with respect to transportation savings, there seems that viability is in the offing. This is very preliminary assessment and much due diligence is required. However, further investigation is warranted.

I am posting this brief discussion in the hope that perhaps someone may find the concept of interest and wish to engage in exploring the idea further. Thank you for your consideration.
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