Canadian Biomass Magazine

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Ontario’s first wood fuel facility for processing and storing wood chips now operating


June 17, 2019
By Biothermic

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People, businesses and communities across Canada looking for cheaper, more reliable and environmentally friendly heating options should be taking a closer look at wood fuel, says a national supplier of wood heating systems.

Biothermic, an Ontario-based company with two locations supplying modern wood heating systems across Canada, has built Ontario’s first wood fuel facility for processing and storing wood chips – a major step forward in helping make low-carbon, low-cost energy a reality in Canada.

By offering customers year-round access to wood chips, the company is making it even easier to use wood as a heat source, save money and boost their local economies – even more so for remote and rural communities outside of natural gas service areas that pay a premium to ship in oil or propane.

Biothermic President and co-owner Vince Rutter says Europe has been far ahead for decades in implementing wood-based energy technologies, but with Canada’s vast resource of trees, and a new appetite for cheaper, cleaner ways to heat our buildings and homes all winter long, our demand for modern wood heat systems is steadily growing.

“Using trees as a heat source is a financial and environmental win,” said Rutter. “Trees are cheap and plentiful in Canada, and they can be grown sustainably forever. These are systems that can be used by schools, warehouses, greenhouses, institutions and businesses – almost anyone, anywhere in Canada, that wants to save money on heating costs.”

Moreover, wood fuel keeps money circulating in local economies. For example, currently as much as 80 per cent of money spent on fossil fuels leaves Ontario alone, something Rutter says matters to his clients.

“Instead of writing a cheque to a large multinational corporation, you’ll be writing a cheque to a local supplier, so that money stays in the community and recirculates,” said Colin Kelly, Director of Applied Research at Confederation College, which installed a Biothermic wood heating system on its Thunder Bay campus last year. “It’s a triple bottom line: we save money, create local jobs and reduce carbon emissions.”

The wood for Biothermic heating systems comes from local sources that would otherwise be mulched or composted. Some of it is sawmill residue, but the majority is the result of urban forestry and tree care. The leftover wood is diverted to either of Biothermic’s two locations in Northwestern and Southern Ontario, where it can be separated and dried to the consistent shape and quality required for use in their heating systems.

Their new wood fuel facility, built in 2018 at their Thunder Bay location, gives them 5,000 square feet and 2,000 cubic metres of new storage space – enough room to house wood chips on site to supply their Northwestern Ontario clients with fuel for the entire heating season – a key infrastructure investment to boost uptake of this energy option.

The Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-economy, or CRIBE, awarded a $168,500 grant to Biothermic to help make the new wood processing facility a reality. CRIBE is an independent non-profit corporation that supports the development and commercialization of innovative use of forest biomass in Canada.

They note that Canada has the most forest resources per capita of any country in the world and is an international leader in sustainable forestry, yet by all measures, has not yet realized the economic and environmental potential of this renewable resource.

“Modern biomass heating is a proven, clean and cost-effective source of renewable energy,” said Chris Walton, CEO of CRIBE. “The Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-economy is proud to support Biothermic in developing a regional wood heating biomass supply system which will support this important and growing market.”

With their new facility up and running, and demand increasing across the country, Rutter says the focus now is convincing people that modern wood heating systems are straightforward, green and clean technology, bearing little to no resemblance to the dirty, smoky wood-fired stoves and burners of the past.

“In Canada, everybody spends money on energy – this is the best way forward to get the fuel we all need, at a much lower cost to businesses, people and the environment.”

Biothermic is a Canadian company based in Haliburton and Thunder Bay, Ontario specializing in development and deployment of modern wood heating systems across the country. We offer expert wood heating knowledge and experience, wholesale mechanical distribution, complete design support and turnkey installations for commercial, institutional and residential customers.