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Metro Vancouver eyes alternative energy

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

The Royal Columbian Hospital's planned expansion will include a natural gas heating plant.
CITY OF NEW WESTMINSTER PHOTO

The Royal Columbian Hospital's planned expansion will include a natural gas heating plant. CITY OF NEW WESTMINSTER PHOTO

The benefit of a district energy system is that it allows you to switch to different fuel sources without changing the system. — Elisa Campbell, Metro Vancouver

 

The Lower Mainland took another step to diversifying sources of energy Thursday with a Metro Vancouver committee’s endorsement of a sewage heating plan.

Elisa Campbell, director of regional strategic planning at Metro Vancouver, told 24 hours the push recognizes that existing fuel sources won’t last forever.

Metro Vancouver’s plan is to exploit sewage temperatures to provide enough power in the winter for up to 75,000 homes.

But waste heat isn’t the only method municipalities around the region are considering — natural gas boilers, woodchip or biomass burning are others.

Campbell said these add incremental energy sources to regions — as opposed to how BC Hydro must build dams regardless of whether or not all that power is needed right now.

According to a graph Campbell presented at Thursday’s Community Energy Symposium in New Westminster — though she cautioned the information is slightly dated — there are up to 11 district energy projects in development. Nine have already been built.

Two such projects being planned, according to New West community energy manager Norm Connolly, are a Sapperton energy plant and a new powerplant for Royal Columbian Hospital’s planned expansion.

He said the hospital is planning to go 100% natural gas, while New West is exploring woodchip/biomass burning or sewage heat.  

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