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Sustainable energy industry leaders visit the Providence biomass facility
Industry leaders from the sustainable energy sector were at Providence, Friday, to witness what Richard Grosshans termed “a historic moment.”
Grosshans—a Senior Research Scientist with the International Institute for Sustainable Development—and representatives from Biovalco, PAMI, Weyerhaeuser Canada, the University of Manitoba, the University of Winnipeg, and Manitoba Hydro were on hand as the biomass facility at the Otterburne campus began burning cattail pellets as an alternative fuel source to wood pellets.
“This is really exciting,” exclaimed Grosshans. “We’ve come a long way to get to this stage.”
The cattail project began in 2006 when the IISD began looking into phosphorus and algae issues in Lake Winnipeg, as well as general tension on the lake’s system. As absorbents of phosphorus and other contaminants, cattails were harvested and, after additional research, found to be ideal sources of biomass energy.
“The cattails that are burning in there right now are an amazing sponge on the landscape,” he said, indicating the Providence burner.
As such, they also create a win-win-win-win scenario for water management, sustainable development, fuel consumption, and a hydro grid requiring additional energy sources.
“Providence has been kind of like a showcase for us,” remarked Stephane Gauthier of Biovalco—the system’s designer. “It’s an amazing place to come. Being an institution, it’s a really good showcase.”
Providence has been using biomass for district heat since 2011. At present, approximately 70 per cent of the school’s energy consumption comes from renewable resources.
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Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada, R0A 1G0
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