UBC Undergraduate Research

Energy opportunities from lignocellulosic biomass in British Columbia Bradley, Carter


The Green movement is a global shift which is causing people to change lifestyle habits and ways of thinking to improve their use of natural resources. Alternative energy is one of the most important components in this shift and is necessary to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for energy in our everyday lives. Solar, wind, geothermal and biomass are the main sources of energy being explored and are in use throughout the world today in various capacities and with varied degrees of success. Due to the climatic and topographic limitation of solar, wind and geothermal energies, biomass is becoming increasingly desirable as the standard method of renewable energy production. Solid wood has been used as fuel for heating and cooking since the stone ages and emerging technologies may once again involve wood more prominently in our daily lives. When the general public hears about wood energy they automatically think of dirty fireplaces and woodstoves which are the traditional methods of wood heating. The future of this resource is more likely to involve commercialized production of energy and bio-fuels while also finding new technologies to allow for residential use of wood for heating in more efficient ways. Bio-energy potential from the Mountain Pine Beetle devastated Lodgepole Pine in central British Columbia may pose the best opportunity for renewable energy production Canada. As Canada has some of the lowest household electricity rates in the world the market is a difficult one for bio-energy to penetrate. In Europe there has been a larger move towards bio-energy projects due to the substantially higher electricity costs, but can these same technology platforms be viable in Canada. Looking at the country as a whole is too broad due to the varied lifestyles and the large gaps between metropolitan centers. Drilling down to look at British Columbia, and more specifically the interior where the population is much less dense and the availability and access to raw fuel are much greater. There are various methods of producing energy from woody biomass such as direct combustion, cogeneration, gasification, co-firing and production of bio-ethanol or bio-oil. The methods of energy production will be outlined and evaluated based on ease of implementation, required technology and overall costs associated with operation.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International