UPDATE Mar 3, 2022: I added Discussions (on WWNS). Folks associated with Freeman Lumber participated.
UPDATE Mar 1, 2022: A closely related item/investigatory journalism: Dalhousie University’s decision to source “sustainable biomass” from J.D. Irving and Wagner a “piss-off”
by Joan Baxter in the Halifax Examiner,Mar 1, 2022. Also view The biomass power shuffle by Jennifer Henderson in the Halifax Examiner, Sep 30, 2020.
An aerial image of Emera’s Brooklyn Power Plant featured in two recent CBC news items highlights the cut log feedstocks off of Wood Hauling Road to the south of the plant; in the distance to the north is a larger area of hog fuel, with a direct feed to the Power Plant. View
With Brooklyn Power offline and no other options, sawmills sit on byproducts
Michael Gorman · CBC News · Posted: Mar 01, 2022
N.S. power plant that uses biomass knocked offline after stack falls in high winds
Michael Gorman · CBC News · Posted: Feb 22, 2022
It’s not clear if all of the feedstock received by the Brooklyn Power from the five sawmills in western Nova Scotia cited by Marcus Zwicker (CBC Mar 1, 2022) as supplying feedstocks to Brooklyn Power arrives in the form of hog fuel, or some of it is in the cut logs so neatly stacked to the south of the plant; or whether those cut logs are received by Brooklyn Power from other suppliers.
It is clear, however, that the balance between genuine sawmill wastes and cut logs, and whether the plants are being used to generate just heat or heat + electricity, determines whether such forest bioenergy plants are worsening or helping to reduce carbon emissions over the next 20-50 years. That’s when we so desperately need and are committed to real reductions in GHG emissions.
When most of the feedstock is coming from freshly cut logs (or freshly cut and chipped logs), carbon emissions are greatly increased over this interval; when it comes from genuine sawmill wastes, they are reduced compared to burning coal – but not, for example, compared to making longer lasting forest products from the same materials. And if the plant is producing electricity from biomass, a very inefficient process, the balance shifts much more towards net emissions. (View NSFN Post Jan 3, 2017)
It seems Minister Rushton wants it both ways. From CBC Mar 1, 2022
Rushton said burning residuals from sawmills is “a key component of what is taking place in the transformation away from Northern Pulp” to a more circular economy for the forest industry in western Nova Scotia.
With the full Nova Scotia block of power from Muskrat Falls still not online, Rushton said the province must keep its options open while working toward the target of producing 80 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Although environmentalists have decried the consideration of biomass as a renewable resource, Rushton said the provincial government considers “residuals” from forestry products to be renewable.
“I’m certainly not one that wants to entertain what we’ve done in years past of cutting a forest down to be producing chips just for the solid purpose of creating electricity,” he said.
“I recognize the fact that it’s not the most efficient way to produce electricity, but I also recognize the fact that it’s a key component [that] that byproduct is going to a market for the mills and the woodlot owners in that area.”
Fully transparency and complete accounting of feedstocks and full LCAs (Life Cycle Assessments) of the GHG emissions are required to settle claims about whether a particular forest bioenergy operation can be considered genuinely green/carbon neutral) or not.
If it’s not then that operation should not count towards our commitments to reduce GHG emissions, and clearly should not be subsidized. If it is, OK, take the credit. Do that for all of them and we can then continue to claim “Nova Scotia is a national leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions a national leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” (e.g. Press Release May 14, 2018).
Surely this a position the Houston Government with its commitments to transparency, proper accounting and addressing climate change can support.
Mar 3, 2022: MP/Woods and Waters Nova Scotia (public FB page)* makes a post with a link to each of my posts on NSFN, which is where I encourage people to go if they wish to comment on my posts. There are quite a few comments related to this item and to the article by Joan Baxter on the Dal forest bioenergy plant.
*”W&WNS is committed to being an equal opportunity forum for both sides of the forestry debate.” (Cited on NSFN Post)
A few folks associated with Freeman Lumber participated and clarified what feedstocks are being used at the Brooklyn plant. The short description: “Brooklyn energy consumes 100% byproducts from high value lumber production since the closure of NP full stop.”
However, the Freeman folks also commented, “That round wood inventory in the picture predates the closure of Northern Pulp when there were high value and robust markets for sawmill byproducts and a small but expensive round wood diet was needed to keep the plant running when the grid demanded it.” There is no guarantee that won’t happen again. Regardless, I argue, the electricity component of the bioenergy plant makes the whole operation dicey from a GHG perspective and now that we are phasing out coal, doing “better than using coal” can no longer be a justification for calling forest bioenergy green.
I found the discussion helpful. There’s much more about forests and forestry in NS that could benefit from open discussion and debate, ‘wish some of our institutions and businesses would do more to facilitate it.
My concluding comment: “Good enough and Thx for participating in the conversation. To reduce strife and make more broadly supported policy decisions, we need to:
Some related posts and pages on NSFN
– Achieving Net Zero for Nova Scotia: can we take a lead from Dr. Strang? 26Jun2021
NSFN Post June 26, 2021
– Natural Resources Canada GHG Calculator confirms Nova Scotia forest bioenergy schemes are worse than coal
NSFN Post January 3, 2017
– Using The Feds’ Bioenergy GHG Calculator
Page created posted May 23, 2018
– Islanders are asking the right questions about biomass heating 23Nov2019
NSFN Post Nov 23, 2019
– Canada’s faulty forest carbon accounting laid bare 30Mar2020
NSFN Post March 30, 2020 by admin
– Marcus Zwicker: Managed forests sequester more carbon than unmanaged forests
NSFN Post February 20, 2019 by admin
– In 2020, strict standards and transparency are required for Nova Scotia’s forest chipping/bioenergy projects to be credible as “good for the environment” 11Feb2020
NSFN Post February 11, 2020 by admin