Cap lowered on biomass for electricity

April 12, 2011
Apr. 12, 2011 – Nova Scotia is acting to protect the sustainability of its forests while keeping on track to meet its renewable energy goals. The cap on the annual amount of new forest biomass that can be used to generate electricity will be lowered by 30% to 350,000 dry tonnes/year.

"As we work to meet our target to generate 40% of the province's electricity from renewable sources by 2020, we are continually assessing our information," says Charlie Parker, minister of natural resources. "We have decided that the original 500,000-tonne cap, laid out in the 2010 Renewable Electricity Plan and subsequent regulations, can be more cautious on the basis of current analysis."

When the plan was released in April 2010, the province made a commitment to defer to the Natural Resources Strategy process in setting the biomass cap.

"The Phase Two steering panel report in the Natural Resources Strategy process states that government should exercise caution in the use of biomass for power generation," says Parker. "We are paying attention to that advice while continuing to rely on forest biomass as part of a diversified approach to renewable energy."

Provincial forest biomass will not be co-fired in Nova Scotia Power generating plants to help meet the province's 2015 regulated target of 25% renewable electricity. Other biomass projects will continue to be covered by the cap, including community-based biomass projects under the province's new Community Feed-in-Tariff program.

Typically harvested as a byproduct of regular forestry practices, biomass is a renewable fuel source suitable for generating electricity in large power facilities and small community biomass projects. Forest biomass in Nova Scotia is used as a fuel in a number of applications, including firewood in more than 100,000 homes, a co-generation facility in Brooklyn in Queens County, the agricultural college in Truro, two South Shore hospitals, and several other institutions. The only recently approved biomass project in the province is for NewPage Port Hawkesbury in partnership with Nova Scotia Power. The project is expected to begin in 2012 under strict forest harvesting guidelines announced in November 2009. New policies to reduce clear-cutting to 50% will also apply to NewPage.

The province says it will release an economic impact analysis in early May 2011 of recent policy changes on the forestry industry, particularly a clear-cutting reduction target. The provincial Natural Resources Strategy also will be released this spring.

For additional information, read N.S. chops biomass quota by 30 per cent, by David Jackson | The Chronicle Herald.

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