The Yukon government is looking at plans to develop biomass energy to help lower their fossil fuel imports to the area. Yukon is one of Canada’s three of federal territories.
“A biomass energy strategy will guide the development of an emerging sector that can offer yet another much-needed solution to deliver adequate energy during our long, cold winter months,” Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Scott Kent said in a statement. “The adoption of modern, clean-burning wood-heating technology will increase demand for wood products and create new jobs in the forestry and the heating industries.”
The territory released a plan explaining the benefits of biomass, and said that nearly $60 million is spent each year on fuel and electricity for the province — and nearly 50 percent of that is spent on imported fossil fuels. With their biomass plan, the government is hoping to reduce dependence on not only fossil fuels, but also imported fuel sources.
“A transition to a biomass economy has the potential to reduce heating costs for Yukoners, create new jobs in the local forest and heating industries, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and move the territory towards sustainable renewable energy and greater energy self‐sufficiency,” the report explained.
Yukon is home to vast quantities of biomass materials, but the strategy focuses on wood. The six actions that the territory is proposing include: using biomass energy for government infrastructure; developing regulations, policies and programs for a biomass energy industry; managing air quality to protect public and environmental health and safety; facilitating the development of a biomass energy industry in Yukon; ensuring a sustainable timber supply; and ensuring biomass fuel quality and security.
Matt Ball with the territory’s Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, told the Canadian Broacast Channel that they are planning “things like pellet boilers, chip boilers which are made from local chips.”
With the plan, the government hopes to follow the lead of the Northwest Territory, whose government has installed 14 modern biomass heating systems in public buildings. Yukon’s report found many Alaskan public and private buildings have converted to biomass heating — due to a growing biomass industry being created in that state.
“Using biomass for heat is a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable solution for heating in the territory,” Kent added. “The proposed action items are a clear path forward for achieving a viable, safe and clean industry that will be good for Yukon’s economy and environment. We look forward to receiving feedback from the public.”
The biomass plan is also meant to help the Yukon Territory reach their goal of 20 percent energy from renewables by 2020.