A real proposal for bioenergy from beetle wood

Seems the other shoe is dropping on the idea that unmarketable B.C. forest products (lumber going to weak markets, timber damaged by pine beetles) might be useful for bioenergy projects. Reports the Globe and Mail:

Vancouver-based Nexterra Energy Corp. and Calgary-based Pristine Power Inc. have put together a proposal, expected to be announced Tuesday, to develop a network of plants that would generate up to 200 megawatts of electricity. (By comparison, B.C. Hydro’s Peace Canyon Generating Station on the Peace River has a capacity of 694 megawatts while most of the green projects, such as small hydro projects, under consideration by the utility have a capacity of 10 megawatts or less.)

The cost of building the plants, which would use Nexterra’s biomass gasification technology, is estimated at more than $500-million.

This gives a sense of the scale of bioenergy as an alternative to selling lumber in the usual way. If the B.C. government agreed to pay 50 cents a kilowatt-hour for the electricity — which would involve a truly awesome subsidy, the going rate for green power from commercial providers like Bullfrog Power being less than 10 cents a kilowatt-hour — it’d still only pay $2.4 million a day if all the plants were going flat-out, by my math. That’s a lot of money, but not going to make up for too many closed sawmills.

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