Thursday August 20th, 2009, Larry Weick, Vice President of Zilkha Biomass Energy, based in Houston, Texas, met with Mayor Larry White, Councillor Wren, Councillor Schembri, CAO Kim Isaak and the TRCOC Manager Dawn Pouliot. The meeting included a PowerPoint presentation given by Mr. Weick, detailing the history of the company, current biomass projects, and what they propose, utilizing our province?s pine beetle infected trees.
Zilkha Biomass Energy is looking for an area in BC where they can build their plant to produce wood pellets for the purpose of supplying biomass fuel for electricity. The area must be able to ensure the supply of timber to meet the plant?s production demands and have good transportation accessibility.
Peter Brand, an independent consultant hired by Zilkha Biomass Energy has been in touch with CN Rail to verify the transportation accessibility.
Mayor White took the representatives on a helicopter tour of the Tumbler Ridge area with Ridge Rotors.
At the lunch meeting, Mayor White asked what Tumbler Ridge would have to do to become the area of choice for Zilkha Biomass Energy?s new project. The response from Larry Weick was that one major requirement would be for Tumbler Ridge to secure the forestry rights for our area in order to meet the demand of the product required.
Ray Proulx, Economic Development Officer for the District of Tumbler Ridge commented, ?If it comes to fruition, this investment has the potential to generate employment, while fully utilizing a rapidly-decomposing forest resource. For the first time in the history of Tumbler Ridge our residents could now be employed in the forestry industry, rather than simply witnessing the shipment of local timber to other areas?.
?Other spin-off elements may include the distribution of waste heat for public buildings and could possibly enable the establishment of local silviculture activities. The last, but certainly not the least, benefit of these projects would be the possibility of establishing a back-up source of electricity for Tumbler Ridge?.
?The main hurdle to the viability of any biomass project is the ability to secure access to a large of amount of timber resource. For this particular project this means a minimum of 600,000 m3/yr for at least 15 years. Mayor White has already been in discussions with our MLA, Blair Lekstrom about the matter and Council has arranged a meeting in September with the Minister of Forests and Range, Pat Bell, at the annual UBCM convention?.
Mayor Larry White, ?I think that this is a great opportunity to diversify our economy, we just have to ensure the cooperation of the provincial government and in particular the Ministry of Forest and Range?.
Zilkha Biomass Energy is involved in production of wood pellets and the units that convert the pellets into electricity. The European energy market is their primary source of export.
With the continued environmental restrictions placed on our energy sources, the demand for alternative green fuels to produce energy will steadily increase. International and federal governments will continue to impose increasingly stringent environmental regulations on industry. The cost associated with complying with these regulations will continue to rise. The need to diversify is essential for economic success and the longevity of Tumbler Ridge. With the efforts of the EDO, Mayor and Council and the cooperation of the forestry industry the possibility exists for a biomass energy production to be situated in Tumbler Ridge.
The process of turning the wood pellets into electricity with virtually no carbon emissions:
1. The wood fuel is introduced into a high-pressure environment in the separate wood burner.
2. The wood is combusted into a hot gas.
3. The hot gas is sent to the turbine.
4. The expanding high-pressure gas turns a turbine engine that is connected to an electricity generator by a fixed shaft.
5. The turning electricity generator creates electricity.
6. That electricity is then used by the wood facility hosting the Zilkha Biomass Unit, or the electricity is sold to the grid.
The unused energy not sufficient to make electricity exits the turbine as exhaust and can be used in a variety of industrial applications, like drying out materials or making steam.
For more information about Zilka Biomass Energy plese visit their website at www.zilkha.com