UVic mulls building biomass energy plant

University of Victoria is considering building a biomass thermal energy plant to heat its buildings

As a way to reduce its carbon footprint, the University of Victoria is considering building a biomass thermal energy plant to heat its buildings.

“Biomass fuel, such as wood waste, or a combination of wood waste, yard and garden waste, is clean. It doesn’t create greenhouse gas because it’s a renewable resource,” said Tom Smith, UVic’s director of facilities. “It’s burning something different than natural gas that comes from the ground to create hot water.”

UVic says its current heat system – hot water generated by natural-gas fuelled burners – accounts for more than 70 per cent of Uvic’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Smith says the university spends some $750,000 a year on carbon offsets and taxes on natural gas.

Building a biomass fuel plant was one of the recommendations that came out of UVic’s energy master plan, which looked at the school’s energy savings.

“It’s just a feasibility study at this time, but if it’s successful it could make us the greenest university in Canada,” Smith said. “This study will consider the technical and economic viability of a biomass energy plant as well as the opportunities for research and academic opportunities.”

Energy management company Dalkia Canada is assisting UVic with the feasibility study, which is the first step in an “eight-month exploratory process.”

A public open house on the feasibility study will be held Wednesday, March 27 from 3 to 7 p.m. in the upper lounge of the Student Union Building.

kslavin@saanichnews.com