By Anthony Capkun
January 28, 2013 – Cape Breton is now “well-positioned to be a leader” in biomass energy with the announcement today that the Harbourside biomass plant in Sydney is proceeding to the next phase in the Community Feed-in Tariff program (COMFIT).
“Biomass is an important part of our vision to continue to strengthen our forestry sector,” said Deputy Premier Frank Corbett at the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment at Cape Breton University. “The project is another example of a community-led clean, renewable energy project that is both good for the environment and the local economy.”
The 2010 Renewable Electricity Plan introduced the COMFIT concept to help transform the province’s energy future, says the Department of Energy, provide a secure supply of clean, local energy at stable prices and create jobs.
The Harbourside biomass project, operated by Cape Breton Explorations, will generate 6MW of energy and create 15 new jobs at the plant, plus 50 new jobs in the forestry sector.
Lockheed Martin is the designated contractor to supply engineering procurement and construction services for this project. Cape Breton Explorations will work with Lockheed to develop the project, and it is anticipated that most of the construction will be done by local contractors.
The biomass plant will eventually use the extra heat it produces to generate methane fuel or natural gas. This fuel will then be used to power school buses, delivery trucks, and other vehicles that need to stop and start frequently, helping reduce their fuel costs by more than 50%, says the department.
More than 20 community groups have submitted over 90 locally based proposals for the initiative that encourages community participation in renewable energy projects. COMFIT provides eligible groups an established price per kW/h for projects producing electricity from renewable resources such as wind, biomass, and in-stream tidal and run-of-the-river tidal developments.
Eligible groups include municipalities, First Nations, co-operatives, universities, community economic development funds and not-for-profit groups. The COMFIT program aims to help the province reach its renewable electricity targets of 25% renewable electricity by 2015 and 40% by 2020. The province expects 100MW to be produced through COMFIT.