The Canadian energy and gas giant Manitoba Hydro is going to target 250 of its industrial and agricultural customers to get them to create their own biomass energy operations. The company launched its Bioenergy Optimization Program which provides its largest clients with attractive incentives if they undertake feasibility studies to find out the costs involved in setting up a biomass energy plant. The company has a maximum of $1.250.000 available for such studies.
All of the customers targeted have access to low cost sources of biomass, Manitoba Hydro says, plus the companies also have the capability to operate a biomass-to-energy conversion system. Manitoba Hydro will provide customers with technical and economic information about biomass to energy conversion systems to assist them in making a decision about participation.
Manitoba proposes two types of technology to produce energy from biomass. The first type is direct combustion (for instance burning waste wood in a boiler to produce steam for powering a generator/heat exchanger). Secondly, the company proposes the anaerobic digestion method, which converts manure in a digester to produce biogas (methane). This can fuel a combustion engine-driven generator/heat exchanger. This type of biomass solution is perfect for hog farms because anaerobic digestion is a good replacement for natural gas and other non-renewable heating fuels.
If the project takes off to the extent that Manitoba Hydro expects, annual load reduction savings of up to 10 megawatts and 78 gigawatt-hours of electricity can be achieved. Additionally, 3.8 million cubic metres of natural gas is saved. Carbon dioxide emissions are lowered by 65,580 tonnes 2017/18, according to Manitoba Hydro.
The attraction of switching over to a biomass system for Manitoba Hydro´s industrial customers is mostly cost efficiency due to the cheap biomass resources. These include waste wood, crop residues and livestock manure. On top of savings made on the energy side of the scheme, customers also save on costs because they avoid traditional waste disposal costs. Manitoba Hydro itself gains access to low cost energy which it can sell at a profit.
Manitoba is no newcomer on the environmental solutions scene. Since 1991, the company has been running various similar programs which have achieved combined savings of more than $275 million in energy bills, equivalent of 965 000 tonnes of carbon.