Biomass

Wood such as fire-killed and beetle-killed timber, and sawmill waste, is used to produce electricity. It creates heat as a by-product.

There are several methods for converting biomass into energy. Biomass is burned, heating water or oil for steam, or producing a vapour known as syngas. The steam or gas is used in a turbine and generator to produce electricity and heat.

Process

Studies

Stantec Consulting was hired in 2013 to research whether it was technically and financially feasible to produce electricity with biomass in Haines Junction. The work was updated in 2016.

The study looked at using standing timber (including beetle-killed wood) and sawmill waste.

The study considered a 0.5 megawatt (MW) biomass plant and a two megawatt facility. The research showed that a 0.5 MW plant could use the available feedstock without impacting current biomass harvesting operations and with no need to supplement with green timber.

The 2.0 MW unit would require new harvesting operations and policies and would have to supplement the existing feedstock source with approximately 68 percent green timber. For this reason, Yukon Energy is only giving the 0.5 MW option further consideration at this time.

Technical and Financial Findings

Annual Energy Firm Energy Installed Capacity Dependable Capacity Levelized Cost of Energy Levelized Cost of Capacity Project Life In-service Lead Time
GWh/yr GWh/yr MW MW $/kWh $/kW yr Years Years

Option #1

Conventional Boiler/Steam turbine

3.2 3.2 0.5 0.4 $0.44 $1,969 20

Option #2

Thermal Oil (ORC)

4.4 4.4 0.643 0.551 $0.35 $1,715 20

Option #3

Gasification

2.5 2.5 0.5 0.369 $0.43 $2,240 20

Energy

Capacity

Evaluation

Aquatic environment Most favourable
Terrestrial environment Most favourable
Air quality Somewhat favourable
First Nation lands Most favourable
Traditional lifestyle Most favourable
Heritage resources Most favourable
Tourism/recreation/other land uses Most favourable
Cultural/community well-being Most favourable
Local economic benefits Least favourable
Climate change risk Most favourable
  •  Most favourable
  •  Somewhat favourable
  •  Least favourable

Notes

Biomass energy generation is seldom economic without the sale of heat. Of the energy produced in a biomass gasification plant, only about 22 percent is converted to electricity. The Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) shown on the graph on the previous page does not include heat sales, to provide consistency with the other options in the 2016 Resource Plan. With combined heat and electricity sales, the LCOE for the three biomass options would be:

$0.359/kWh for conventional steam;

$0.298/kWh for ORC; and

$0.338/kWh for gasification.

Current cost of electricity to Yukon homeowners is approximately $0.14/kWh.

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Initial key findings

Pros

Minimal environmental impacts

Cons

Expensive compared to other options

Limited energy and capacity