Biomass Heat for First Nations’ Community Buildings

A Prefeasibility Study for 3 First Nations Communities

Aki Energy asked Boke Consulting to conduct a prefeasiblity study of biomass heating systems alternatives for the non-residential buildings on 3 First Nations communities in Manitoba—Dakota Tipi First Nation, Sagkeeng Anicinabe First Nation, and St. Theresa Point First Nation.

Click here to access the full Biomass Prefeasiblity Study.

What follows here is a brief summary of the results of that study.

Climate & Biomass Sources

Each have different climate and ecological characteristics. A review was conducted of how these differences affect heat energy consumption and biomass production. Get a heat pump that will enhance the energy efficiency of your heating system.

The local biomass available for each of these communities was also estimated.

Community Buildings

Buildings that Could be Heated with Biomass

A number of existing community buildings in each community were judged as suitable for biomass heating in each community at this time:

  • 4 at Dakota Tipi, totalling approximately 1,000 m(11,000 ft2)
  • 10 at Sagkeeng, totalling approximately 15,000 m(160,000 ft2)
  • 17 at St. Theresa Point, totalling approximately 18,000 m(190,000 ft2)

These buildings consume significant energy for heat:

  • 560 MWh/year at Dakota Tipi
  • 3,000 MWh/year at Sagkeeng
  • 3,600 MWh/year at St. Theresa Point

Eight Biomass District Heating Systems were proposed to meet those heating needs:

  • 2 at Dakota Tipi
  • 2 at Sagkeeng
  • 4 at St. Theresa Point

Estimate of Biomass Required

An estimate was made of the biomass that could be consumed in these District Heating Systems, if they were all built:

  • 220 tonnes/year at Dakota Tipi
  • 1,000 tonnes/year at Sagkeeng
  • 1,100 tonnes/year at St. Theresa Point

An estimate was made of the cost of this fuel:

  • $150/tonne for Dakota Tipi
  • $170/tonne at Sagkeeng
  • $200/tonne at St. Theresa Point

Estimate of Potential Earned Revenue for Each Community

If each community supplied all this fuel itself, this would represent earned revenue retained by the community of:

  • $33,000/year for Dakota Tipi
  • $170,000/year for Sagkeeng
  • $220,000/year for St. Theresa Point

Estimate of Jobs Created

If each community supplied all this fuel itself, harvesting and processing this biomass would result in permanent Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs in each community:

  • 0.6 FTE in Dakota Tipi
  • 3 FTE in Sagkeeng
  • 4 FTE in St. Theresa Point

Cost Comparisons

When compared in $/kWh, the cost of heating with biomass is two to three times less than the cost of heating with diesel or propane.

The cost of heating with biomass is similar to the cost of heating with grid-based electricity. Over the next ten years, because electricity rates are expected to rise faster than the rate of inflation, the cost of heating with electricity will become more expensive than the cost of heating with biomass.

In the one community studied where natural gas is available—Dakota Tipi First Nation—the cost of heating with natural gas is currently less than the cost of heating with biomass. However, as the carbon levy grows, this cost difference will narrow. Depending on what happens to the carbon levy in the future, the difference in price between natural gas and biomass may disappear.

Potential for Adding Greenhouses

The option of building a greenhouse in each community, connecting it to a District Heating Loop and heating it with biomass was considered for each community.

Preliminary analysis of similar greenhouses indicate that a greenhouse in one or more of these communities could be economically viable, could create a small number of permanent jobs for First Nations members, and could contribute to healthy diets for community members.

Recommended Next Steps

The report makes recommendations on next steps for each community. See the full report for each community’s next steps.