Nova Scotia Power wants to talk to potential biomass suppliers9/21/2012
Mark Sidebottom, NSPI’s vice-president of power generation and delivery, said the utility intends to work with potential suppliers to understand how they intend to supply the fuel for the operation.
“(We’re) really looking for the best fit between ourselves at Nova Scotia Power and the best value for customers and what they need going forward, with a bit of a long-term view, so really that will help us design the next phase of a purchase or procurement,” he said.
Nova Scotia Power doesn’t want to proceed with soliciting firm commitments before first having those talks with potential suppliers, Sidebottom said.
The 60-megawatt biomass facility will require about 500,000 tonnes of biomass fuel annually when it begins operating, which is expected to be in spring 2013.
In addition to biomass supply, NSPI is also looking for parties that may be able to provide trucking, harvesting and shipping.
“It’s the whole spectrum of needs to prepare the fuel for use in the biomass plant,” Sidebottom said.
The plant is expected to create up to 200 new forestry jobs.
Sidebottom said he expects there will be enough biomass available to fuel the plant, even if wood is not being harvested to feed the NewPage mill in Point Tupper. It’s been shut down since last year but is in the process of being readied to reopen, if a sale to Pacific West Commercial Corp. goes ahead.
“We did have a look at the overall lands available and feel comfortable that a sustainable harvest can be done for this amount of biomass,” he said.
Fuel that could be used at the plant includes waste bark, sawdust or shavings from sawmill operations, wood construction waste, agricultural waste, and fuel chips from low-grade forest material. Under provincial regulations, only the main stem of the tree can be used for biomass and tree tops and branches are to be left on the forest floor. Logs that can be used for a higher-value purpose, such as for papermaking or for sawlogs, cannot be used as biomass.
Nova Scotia Power says it will require suppliers to provide proof of origin of biomass material, as well as proof that it was produced in accordance with provincial regulations. In the case of biomass produced from forest harvesting operations, priority will be given to biomass fuel that meets Forest Stewardship Council chain of custody criteria.
Once it starts receiving biomass, NSPI plans to have active management in the woodlands to ensure sustainable practices are being followed by suppliers, Sidebottom said. There hasn’t yet been a decision made as to whether NSPI will do that itself or contract it out.
Construction of the biomass plant is proceeding well, he said. It is a few months behind the original schedule. The delay was caused by NewPage, which had been constructing it for NSPI, going into creditor protection, which forced NSPI to take it over.
Submissions for the request for expressions of interest are due Oct. 5. NSPI could start to receive some biomass by the end of the year.
(Cape Breton Post)