UBC is embarking on a unique, biomass-fuelled heat and power system, the first of its kind in North America, to produce clean, renewable biomass-based heat and power for its campus. The project involves collaboration between Vancouver-based Nexterra Systems Corp., GE Jenbacher (General Electric’s reciprocating gas engine division), FPInnovations and UBC.
The system, to be housed in a building designed and constructed using cross-laminated timber, a low-carbon, renewable alternative to steel frame construction, will combine Nexterra’s proprietary gasification and syngas conditioning technologies with a high-efficiency GE Jenbacher gas engine to convert syngas into electrical power. It will be the first commercial-scale demonstration of this cogeneration application in North America and will produce 2 megawatts of clean, cost-effective electricity that will offset UBC’s existing power consumption.
Overall, the project will generate enough clean electricity to power 1,500 homes, reduce the University’s natural gas consumption by up to 12% and eliminate up to 4,500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year—the equivalent of taking 1,100 cars off the road. In addition to these environmental benefits, the project will provide faculty and students with research and learning opportunities in the clean energy and sustainability sector and could also help municipalities set new, better standards for future bioenergy operations. For the industry partners, the project represents the first opportunity to prove the viability of the system in a real-world scenario and to benefit from improvements and optimization arising from the associated research activities.
Funding support for the project is being provided by the Clean Energy Fund administered through Natural Resources Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, the Province of British Columbia, the BC Bioenergy Network , FPInnovations and the Canadian Wood Council. UBC will recover its investment in the project capital costs from reduced natural gas consumption, lower fuel costs and reduced carbon taxes.
"We are thrilled to have such a dynamic and committed partner as UBC. This is a big milestone for Nexterra and the agreement clearly signals UBC’s intention to become a leading centre for commercialization of clean energy technologies through a new model of partnership with the private sector." Jonathan Rhone, President and CEO of Nexterra Systems Corp.