The University of British Columbia announced a plan today to power and heat part of its campus using wood chips and tree trimmings. But, far from returning to the days of wood stoves, the biomass will feed an ecomagination-qualified GE Jenbacher engine that uses the fuel to produce clean, renewable energy.
The university’s CAD $34 million Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility, which houses the Jenbacher engine, will generate enough electricity to power 1,500 homes and supply up to 12 percent of UBC’s heat requirements. The facility will reduce UBC’s natural gas consumption by 12 percent and campus greenhouse gas emissions by 9 percent, according to the university.
A new, clean energy solution that works at a community scale
This is one of four projects, with a total value of CAD $150 million, that aim to reduce institutional greenhouse gas emissions by one-third by 2015.
“With the successful start-up of our ecomagination-qualified GE Jenbacher gas engine at UBC, Nexterra is well on the road to delivering a renewable biomass combined heat-and-power solution that meets the demanding real-world reliability requirements of district energy providers and distributed power producers worldwide,” says Roger George, general manager, North America, GE Gas Engines.
The UBC project is yet another pathbreaking use for the Jenbacher, which has been deployed to heat, power and provide CO2 for a tomato-growing operation in California, and generate energy from everything from cheese whey to discarded school lunches.
The biomass will be diverted from local landfills and converts the fuel using Nexterra Systems Corp.’s gasification and syngas conditioning technology. It will be the first commercial demonstration of Nexterra’s gasification techniques with the Jenbacher.
“This exciting facility targets a major challenge facing society – the need for new, clean energy solutions that work at a community scale,” says UBC President Stephen Toope.
Top image: A GE Jenbacher engine at UBC’s Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility. Courtesy Don Erhardt/UBC Bionergy Research