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West Fraser Timber Company to Install 13 MW Biomass Plant, Sell Power to Utility

West Fraser Timber Company will generate 13 MW of power for its British Columbia plant and the province as a whole, using wood chips converted to biomass fuel.

The wood products company has signed a deal with Pratt & Whitney Power Systems, which will deliver a biomass heat recovery power plant, comprising two Turboden 65 HRS Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) turbogenerators, to West Fraser’s Chetwynd Forest Industries plant. The timber company has a 20-year electricity purchase agreement to sell 180 GWh/year of wood biomass, from two sites, to utility company BC Hydro.

Turboden is a company of Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

The Chetwynd plant produces 280 MMfbm of lumber products annually, and the ORC units will use thermal oil from a new biomass system installed to burn the plant’s residual hog fuel. About 50 percent to 60 percent of biomass fuel for the ORC units will come from local sawmill operations, and the timber company will buy the rest in the form of logging residues.

ORC technology uses an organic fluid instead of steam to drive a turbo-generator, which can range in nominal output from about 1 to 10 MW and up for a single ORC module. The system employs a closed-cycle process that uses relatively low- to moderate-temperature heat sources to generate electricity. ORC units can use heat from a variety of sources including biomass, geothermal, concentrated solar power, and by recovering heat from industrial processes, engines and gas turbines.

ORC systems work well in remote locations such as the Chetwynd plant in rural northeastern British Columbia because they do not require the use of water or any on-site operational supervision, Pratt & Whitney says.

The two Turboden systems will be delivered to West Fraser by the end of 2013, with installation and commissioning expected in 2014. Commercial operation is planned by the second quarter of 2014.

The installation of the ORC unit at West Fraser’s Chetwynd facility is a part of its efforts to improve operational efficiency and protect the environment. In 2011, the lumber company planted approximately 50 million trees, according to its 2012 Sustainability Report, and all harvested areas are reforested.

Earlier this year, BSkyB, the UK satellite and telecoms company, began generating energy for its main studio campus through a similar wood chip-fueled combined heat and power project that uses Turboden ORC turbogenerators.

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