Nova Scotia Power recently reported that the biomass boiler used to generate electricity for the province consumed 393,423 green tonnes of biomass in 2014, its first full year of operation. Not all the biomass originated in Nova Scotia; almost one quarter was imported.
Nova Scotia Power spokesperson David Rodenhiser told CBC News the company went outside the province to buy 23% of its total biomass when it was cheaper.
"We've imported some secondary biomass, largely sawmill bark, from Quebec," he said. "And there's also been some primary biomass that we've purchased from lands that were being cleared for agricultural purposes in New Brunswick."
Nova Scotia Power’s report states that in 2014, nearly one third of the primary forest biomass used by the boiler came from agricultural sources rather than the forest. The source was lands were being cleared and prepared for agricultural uses such as blueberry growing, and the vegetation harvested for biomass was trees of low quality.
The utility also notes that forest harvesting operations are “highly audited,” by both Nova Scotia Power’s biomass suppliers and the Department of Natural Resources, which has completed field inspections on Crown-owned land. Contractors are said to follow strict protocols to separate out any higher quality logs, which can then be sold by the contractors to other end users, namely to sawmills.
The biomass plant in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., generates about 3% of the province's electricity.