College part of group looking into biomass plant for Haines Junction
Five local governments, agencies and corporations are working together to look into the possibility of a biomass project for Haines Junction.
The Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, the Dakwakada Development Corporation, Yukon Energy, Cold Climate Innovation of the Yukon Research Centre, and the Village of Haines Junction are investigating the potential for a two to three megawatt biomass plant in the community.
If approved, the plant would provide some much-needed renewable electricity for the territory. It also has the potential to produce district heat and create economic opportunities for local businesses and corporations.
“The biomass project promises to provide benefits on multiple levels,” said CAFN Chief James Allen. “A large greenhouse project utilizing waste heat could supply our regional need for vegetables and decrease our reliance on the Alaska Highway for food transport. The production of renewable energy plus the added benefits will create numerous jobs for our people and help our region become more self-sufficient.”
“DDC has been evaluating the renewable energy sector for the last few years”, said Murray Arsenault, General Manager of Dakwakada Development Corporation. “We are optimistic about the investment potential associated with renewable energy which can add greener energy to the Yukon grid, and provide economic opportunities in the traditional territory of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.”
“We’re very excited about this initiative and see this as a win-win for everyone involved,” Yukon Energy president David Morrison said. “It’s crucial that we work with First Nation and other governments, agencies and development corporations so we can ensure a sustainable and secure energy future for the territory.”
“The biomass plant is about creating a sustainable cold climate technology that addresses food security, energy independence and job creation for Yukoners”, said Yukon College president, Karen Barnes. “This collaborative project brings together researchers, industry and government benefiting Yukoners and potentially other sub-arctic regions around the world”.
The preliminary research done to date shows this is a potentially economically viable project. The group is now hiring a consulting company to conduct a more detailed engineering and design study. The results are expected by early 2013.
While this study will primarily focus on electricity production from the plant, the group hopes to find additional money to investigate the use of the facility’s waste heat.
“This is a green, carbon neutral energy project that, if it goes forward, will create much needed jobs in our community,” Haines Junction Mayor George Nassiopoulos said. “I’m particularly pleased with the level of cooperation for this initiative among the corporations and various levels of government.”
The bulk of the funding for the $850,000 engineering and design study is expected to come from Natural Resources Canada, with the remainder coming from the five Yukon organizations.
Once the study results are known, the group will determine how best to move forward. The biomass project would undergo community, environmental and regulatory review before moving to the construction phase.
Yukon Energy Corporation
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations
Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College