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Domtar Kamloops using wood waste for renewable power with FESBC support


March 9, 2020
By Domtar

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Domtar’s Kamloops, B.C. mill has partnered with the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia (FESBC) to use wood waste from slash piles in order to generate power.

In British Columbia specifically, the wildfires of 2017 and 2018 rendered unusable a lot of high-value wood that would have been used to build homes and furniture. While the wood wasn’t destroyed, it was no longer considered suitable for high-quality purposes. Now, however, it’s perfect for use as biofuel.

Under the mill’s partnership with FESBC, announced in January, those types of low-value wood – in addition to branches and treetops that were previously discarded into slash piles and burned at logging sites – will instead be chipped and transported to the mill for use generating renewable power.

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“We are very pleased to play a role in this project that allows us to access otherwise unused fibre from the forest, and use it to generate green electricity,” says Jean-Clause Allaire, Kamloops mill manager.

A portion of that electricity will power the mill, while the remainder will be pushed to the grid helping power homes in the community. In fact, Allaire notes that the mill currently produces about 460,000 megawatts of renewable electricity each year. The mill itself is that power’s largest user. The remaining electricity pushed to the grid is enough to power about half of the homes in Kamloops in a year.

But generating green power for the mill and surrounding community isn’t the only benefit. There are also two greenhouse gas benefits:

First, emissions from burning slash piles contain methane – a very potent greenhouse gas. While incinerating wood produces carbon dioxide, it generates very little methane.

Second, the green electricity produced from woody biomass can potentially displace electricity that otherwise might have been made from fossil fuels in other jurisdictions.

“We are proud to have the opportunity to work with the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia,” says Kevin Belanger, Domtar wood procurement vice-president.

“The partnership aligns with our long-term sustainability strategy to do everything we can to put each tree to its best possible use with minimal waste. Doing so will help ensure that forests will remain viable for centuries to come.”