Projects & Initiatives
In 2018, the Kitselas Housing, Public Works and Infrastructure Department started looking into renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, run-of-the-river and bioenergy. While some of these sources may also work for Kitselas, it was determined that bioenergy was a good option for Gitaus and worth looking into further.
Bioenergy is a renewable energy that uses wood (and sometimes other organic materials like sewage and garbage) to produce heat and electricity. The wood and other organic materials are called biomass. Woodstoves and fireplaces are a type of bioenergy technology. For a very small-scale demonstration of how bioenergy works, click on the following image to see a video demonstration of the Biolite stove.
The Kitselas Housing Department is looking into bioenergy for Gitaus as a way to create energy security and self-sufficiency, provide jobs and economic opportunities for Kitselas, and reduce our environmental footprint, in alignment with Kitselas’ community vision and priorities.
The idea behind this project is to see if Kitselas could make use of a locally abundant resource – wood waste from logging operations in Kitselas Territory. This waste wood is usually branches and other parts of the tree that aren’t used to produce lumber and are often burned at the logging block. We are seeing if Kitselas could use this wood waste to heat and/or produce electricity for the community.
The process of turning wood into energy also makes other products, such as ash and char, and we are looking into opportunities to produce and make money off these by-products.
Where are we at with this project?
This work started in 2018 and we are currently in the feasibility stage of the project, which means we are trying to determine if a project like this could be a good fit for Gitaus: for our people, our economy and for the environment.
Confirming Biomass Availability
We have confirmed that there is enough wood waste from local logging and other sources to run a facility.
See this Fibre Supply Assessment Report for more information.
Energy Use and Demand
We are looking into how much electricity and heat is used in Gitaus to help us better understand how much energy the community uses and what type of bioenergy facility would work best for Gitaus. An Energy Audit Report (Energy Audit Report_20211021) was prepared by Clean Energy Consulting and determined that the buildings (houses and community buildings) in Gitaus will consume over 2 million kilowatt hours (kWh) a year.
Gitaus Energy Profile
To see the energy profile for the buildings in Gitaus click on this link.
Exploring Bioenergy and Biomass Technologies
The project team has reviewed or met with representative from a number of facilities in BC that are using wood to produce energy and/or other products: BC Biocarbon Facility, Advanced BioCarbon 3D, NRC Microgrid Testing and Training Facility, and Teslin Bioheat.
What would a bioenergy plant like this mean for the Gitaus Community and Kitselas Members?
To move forward on a project like this, we have to consider the pros and cons. The project should be providing an overall benefit to the community. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks that are being looked into.
Jobs and Skill Development: The constructions and operation of the plant would provide jobs for Kitselas members living in Gitaus. Operations may require skill development and training opportunities would be made available. We will look at how many jobs would be available, and if there is interest from Kitselas members.
Self-sufficiency: Bioenergy would be able to supply some of the heat and power for our administration buildings and houses. This would reduce reliance on BC Hydro and Pacific Northern Gas. Having an energy system that provides consistent and reliable power to the community is important, so as part of this project we will need to make sure that a reliable source of heat and electricity will be maintained in Gitaus.
Economic Considerations: Bioenergy facilities are expensive to build and operate. The cost to produce heat and electricity from biomass could be higher than what is paid to BC Hydro. However, the money that Kitselas members would pay for heat and power would mostly stay in the community to run the bioenergy facility and pay Kitselas members working there – creating local economic activity. We are also looking at ways to reduce the cost to community members:
We are looking at ways to make money off other products that come from burning wood, such as biochar, ash and wood vinegar. For example, biochar can be used to filter drinking water or as a soil amendment in forestry and agriculture. Making money off these products could help offset the increased costs for heat and electricity.
- We are looking at funding sources to help cover some of the costs to build a plant.
Environmental Considerations: The bioenergy plant would make use of woody waste from logging operations (by Kitselas Forestry and other local licencees). This woody waste is often burned after logging anyway. Using the woody waste in a bioenergy plant will have green house gas benefits. However, we have to make sure there is a consistent supply of this waste material for these environmental benefits to be seen.
The project team is hoping to get more feedback from you. We will likely be reaching out through community meetings, the Kitselas Connects newsletter and on the Kitselas Administration Facebook Page. We want to hear what you think about bioenergy in Gitaus.
Once the feasibility studies are done, the project team will make a recommendation to Council. If it seems like this project is a good fit for Gitaus, we will recommend moving forward with design and construction of the bioenergy plant.
Council will make the final decision on whether the project will move forward.
Who is working on this project?
Kitselas Housing, Public Works, and Infrastructure Department has been working with local consultants, Westland Resources and other local partners: Pacific North Coast Development Society and the Skeena-Nass Centre for Innovation in Resource Economics Society.
The project is funded by Strategic Partnerships Initiative’s Northern and Remote Forests Biomass Initiative administered by the Natural Resources Canada’s Indigenous Forestry Initiative Program.
Question and Answer
As more questions come in from the community, we will add to this section.
Q: What about other renewable energy sources?
A: The project team did look at other renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind power and run of the river. While some of these sources may work in Gitaus, the team determined that bioenergy using woody waste was a good option for Gitaus and worth looking into further.
Q: Building and running a bioenergy plant on a small reserve like Gitaus is probably expensive? How will Kitselas pay for it?
A: Yes, it looks like building and running a bioenergy plant would likely not reduce heating and electricity bills on its own. This is why Kitselas is looking at ways to make money off of the other products produced when wood is burned to produce heat and energy. The idea is that money earned by selling the produces would offset the cost to produce heat and electricity.
We will also look into funding opportunities that will help with the costs required to build a biomass plant.
Want to do a deeper dive? Have a look at some of the reports we produced so far.
Phase 1 Report: Kitselas First Nation Combined Heat and Power using Wood Residue
Please get in touch!
If you have questions or want to give us your thoughts please get in touch with:
Ulyses Venegas, Housing Manager, Kitselas Housing Department
Brittany Dewar, Consultant, Westland Resources Limited