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Bioenergy plant fires up UNBC

How much is 64,000 gigajoules of energy?

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | AUG 17 2011

It’s the amount that the University of Northern British Columbia’s new bioenergy plant will produce each year – enough, says the university, to power the neon lights of the Las Vegas strip for five years. Or, in this case, enough to reduce the university’s fossil fuel consumption by 85 percent.

Opened this spring, the new plant uses a high-efficiency gasification process to convert bark, branches, sawdust and other wood waste (see photo above) from nearby mills into heat to warm campus buildings. The university estimates the plant will save it more than $500,000 a year in fuel costs, while also helping the local forest industry to diversify its activities.

Funded in part by the federal government’s Knowledge Infrastructure Program, the project has already received accolades, including the top award for 2010 (shared
with Harvard University) from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The UNBC project was cited for “its ability to connect teaching and research to campus operations, while serving as a model for communities and other campuses.”

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