Williams Lake pursues wood gasification project to create green energy
City of Williams Lake Council and staff have been working to bring together partners for a potential green energy project in Williams Lake. Still in the development stage, the City is engaging with BC based developer Transition Energy Inc. (TEI), to develop North America’s first commercial scale wood gasification to renewable natural gas plant. If developed, the facility would utilize a wood fibre processing model developed in Sweden to provide renewable natural gas (RNG) that could be fed directly into the FortisBC Gas system utilizing their existing infrastructure.
City staff have been successful in working with TEI to establish an agreement with FortisBC Gas as end customer as well as with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to provide fibre availability supply options that would be required to provide fuel supply for the RNG plant.
“What caught our attention on this technology are the projections around the amount of fibre that would be required, which is significantly less than what is currently being used by other residual purchasers in the area. With reconfigurations in the forest industry, we are looking for ways to keep our important industrial sites operational, and provide for innovation and participation in green technology,” stated Mayor Walt Cobb.
Talks are currently underway with Atlantic Power to potentially co-locate the facility on the site of its Williams Lake Biomass Power Plant. “We see this as a natural fit for the Atlantic Power site, and we have been actively pursuing this as a way for them to potentially extend their operations,” stated Economic Development Officer Beth Veenkamp. “With the projections that this type of operation would require far less fiber supply, our hope is that this type of development may allow for continued operations at the Williams Lake plant after its current power purchase agreement with BC Hydro expires.”
“In British Columbia, FortisBC has committed to developing more RNG projects, and the potential to provide natural gas to Williams Lake from a sustainable energy source is something that we are interested in pursuing,” continued Mayor Cobb. “The work that we have undertaken so far demonstrates that the City can have an active role in both creating the investment climate and fostering the partnerships necessary to move a project such as this along to the development stage.” Cobb added, “We have had very good discussions with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and they have indicated that they are very supportive of identifying new ways to use what will be available from our local forests in the future.”
Mark Kiddell, President of Transition Energy Inc., stated, “We have had a very good reception from the City of Williams Lake to get us to the stage where we can start working on the technical feasibility study and development plan. We are impressed at how aggressively they have moved in developing the network needed to move this project along.”
Nick Galotti, SVP of Operations for Atlantic Power Corporation, has met with City representatives as well as with the partners from TEI to evaluate the potential for co-locating the proposed wood gasification facility at the Williams Lake site. “This is a very interesting project that could have great potential as the fiber supply situation in the Williams Lake area becomes clearer,” stated Galotti. “Finding new ways to be good stewards of the environment and our limited natural resources is something that is always on our radar. This has been the focus of our Williams Lake operation for many years.” Galotti added, “We appreciate that the City of Williams Lake staff are actively working to keep our site in Williams Lake viable well into the future.”
Economic Development Officer