The proposed site for the wood-to-fuel plant is at Downie Timber. (File photo)

Inquiry into wood-to-fuel plant feasibility requested

Study estimated to cost $100,000

Revelstoke’s propane consumption could be replaced with fuel created from pulpwood, city council heard during a report by Cornelius Suchy at a regular meeting on Oct. 10.

Suchy presented study findings from Canadian Biomass Energy Research.

Revelstoke spends more than $12-million annually on imported fossil fuels, Suchy told council. The study looked in part at how a made-in Revelstoke approach to converting wood waste into energy could look.

The Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation (RCFC), Downie, Stella Jones and Louisiana Pacific are all forest tenure holders in the Revelstoke area.

In many of their tenures, there is hemlock timber. It remains “low margin” or “unprofitable” due to a high degree of rot, which doesn’t allow for the timber to be processed into dimensional lumber.

In many cases, it costs more for the companies to transport hemlock to pulp mills than what they get back and some companies just eat the cost of penalties from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and leave them on the forest floor.

Hemlock remains a strong candidate for wood to fuel bioenergy.

In 2014, the City of Revelstoke put out a Request for Proposal for bioenergy solutions for wood-waste issues. But at the time, there was no commercially mature technology.

Now, three years later, RCFC and the other tenure holders want to “screen the market and see what the state of technology is,” said the report.

One option proposed is a small to mid-sized wood to fuel plant next to RCFC’s boiler plant at Downie Timber.

“There would be a win-win solution if some of these fuels can be replaced by locally-made biofuel,” the report said. “Fuel dollars would remain in the community instead of leaving the local economy.

“More importantly, a biofuel plant would enhance the economic performance of the forest sector, a significant employer in Revelstoke.”

City council asked RCFC and Downie Timber to look into conducting a feasibility study for building the plant. The study could cost up to $100,000.

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