Biomass provides a clean alternative energy source in the North America Arctic. Photo: The Arctic Institute, design by Davey Barnwell
In March 2017, The Arctic Institute in partnership with Yukon College, the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER), and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, with support from the U.S. Mission to Canada held a two-day workshop in Whitehorse, Yukon on the future of Arctic entrepreneurship. Bringing together dozens of interested stakeholders, the workshop featured roundtable discussions, based around the foundational dimensions that make a successful renewable energy project, namely, (1) How to overcome technical challenges to develop a project; (2) How stakeholders ensure Indigenous and community engagement; (3) How to ensure the financial commitment necessary for a project; and (4) How policy is either changed or enhanced to promote small-scale renewable energy projects.
Working with experts, academics, government officials, Indigenous leaders, and energy practitioners, the symposium between Canadian and American participants facilitated a much-needed best practice sharing of how to move the Arctic towards a green, innovative economy. The infographic available for download below highlights basic information and takeaways from one of the four roundtable discussions on Biomass Energy.
Workshop Takeaways on Biomass Energy
Planning & Policy
- A Territory or State vision for Biomass use in heating is important in showing communities leadership and support for micro-projects. While forest management is one way to include Biomass in policy, but creating an energy vision is equally important.
- Before embarking on a biomass project, conduct a feasibility study to determine its technical and financial viability with a biomass expert. Use engineers who have experience with biomass boilers and properly size the boiler.
- Tie Northern biomass heating development with new building codes and system regulation.
- Biomass must be elevated higher in policy by including it in white papers on climate change and renewable energy targets.
- Get the entire community on board, even if it means going door to door for tea time.
- Learn a community’s history of using organic materials. Take the time to get to know the local context.
- Get the younger generation involved in biomass. Creating school-based technical assistance programming can engage youth and build inclusive maintenance skills simultaneously.
- Providing opportunities for employment and in-community revenue generation can help to build trust and engage in a heating system.
Financing & Technology
- Integrate biomass into other systems for renewable electricity. Biomass can be an important heat complement to wind, solar, or hydro projects.
- 100% community ownership can help with 100% community buy-in.
- Make sure to install monitoring of both savings and carbon emissions into the system. A great way to involve youth is to engage the school in a biomass monitoring program.
- Think outside the box. Using biomass pellets to heat greenhouses mitigates both energy and food security issues in remote communities.
Bottom Line: What’s needed?
- Public funding for innovation and installation of equipment is just as important as in biomass as in solar and wind projects – and everyone needs more of it.
- More access to startup capital through grants, public private partnerships, & green banks.
- After biomass heating equipment is installed, there needs to be sustained follow-up support or community training sessions to make sure systems are at their highest efficiency.
- Share success stories and data across borders, not just within countries. The European Arctic, especially Finland, has established an expertise in biomass – create a regional network of sharing.
This is our second installment on renewable energy in and for the Arctic. You can find other infographics below: