Here is a selection of questions that have been asked relating to biomass facilities.

What is the Renewable Energy Plant?

The proposed Renewable Energy Plant is an electricity generating facility with an installed capacity of 45 megawatts (MW), including a steam turbine which would be driven through the combustion of biomass material, primarily straw, supplied by local farmers.

On an annual basis, each facility is expected to avoid 58,500 tonnes of the key greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2). This is equivalent to a >98% emissions avoidance when compared to the 2020 Saskatchewan energy mix.

The proposed projects are expected to provide both construction and long-term economic opportunities to the local area, including employment and training, local feedstock procurement, contracting, indigenous partnerships and educational partnerships. Feedstock procurement provides an additional, non-seasonal revenue stream to farmers and existing industries. The plants have a long operational life of over 50 years.

Low Carbon Eco2 Energy Limited is developing two Renewable Energy Plants in Saskatchewan. These will be located in Estevan and Clavet.

Why Estevan?

Estevan is well placed for a large scale biomass industry, with an abundance of agricultural residue and waste wood from existing industry; as well as ambitious energy transition plans.

The team has experience of developing biomass projects and associated supply chains, having previously developed many projects in the United Kingdom (UK), including the first straw-powered biomass plant. The UK now has more than 30 biomass energy facilities of over 15MW in size, as well as many smaller facilities, which together generate 9% of UK electricity. For context, it is estimated that arable cropland in

Estevan is >3x greater than in the UK – suggesting that the province is well-suited for development of a large scale biomass industry, bringing the same economic benefits to farmers and hauliers, as well as job creation and provision of renewable electricity.

The straw biomass supply chain is an integral part of the UK’s rural economy, and we hope you will support us in our goal to develop it in Estevan too.

How did you select the chosen sites?

This sites were chosen following a thorough site selection exercise. This considered sites that are located in key feedstock basins. Each site was tested against several criteria including plot size, access, grid connection, and impact on local amenities.

What will the plant burn?

The plant has been designed to primarily utilise straw, alongside a small proportion of waste wood.

A range of cereal straw residues can be used to fuel the facility (including low grade straw) and we are undertaking tests to understand the level of flax straw we could process. The facility can also utilise other agricultural by-products such as husk or low-quality crop. The materials do not compete with food production.

Waste wood will be comprised of materials being diverted from disposal through landfill or other means. No trees will be cut for the sole purpose of biomass feedstock.

Final feedstock mix will be determined by availability in each area.

What sort of emissions come out of the chimney?

The flue gas produced from the combustion is ‘cleaned’ to a very high standard before being released into the atmosphere via the flue chimney.

The main emission from the chimney will be CO2 released by the combustion of the plant material, equal to the amount of CO2 absorbed by the wheat crop as it grows. Water vapour, from moisture in the fuel, also leaves the chimney – this is sometimes mistaken for smoke.

There are a very small amount of other emissions, including nitrogen dioxide; carbon monoxide; sulphur dioxide; hydrogen chloride and particulate matter. These emissions are all at levels well below those dangerous to human health or wildlife, and are monitored continuously to ensure they meet the strict limits set by environmental authorities.

Nitrogen dioxide, which is an inevitable product of any combustion process, is controlled by careful management of the combustion process itself (for example, staged injection of the combustion air). Carbon monoxide, which is a sign that the combustion process is incomplete, is also kept low by close attention to combustion conditions. Sulphur dioxide and hydrogen chloride are acidic gases that are produced by the reaction of the sulphur and chlorine naturally present in straw with combustion air. These acid gases are controlled by injecting lime into the flue gas stream, which removes them. The reagent is then removed from the flue gas by a bag filtration unit which would also remove c.99% of the particulate matter produced during combustion.

Burning straw in a modern, best-in-class facility is a much more controlled and cleaner process than burning the stubble in fields.

What will be seen coming out of the chimney?

There will sometimes be a visible plume of water vapour above the stack. The visibility of this plume is dependent on the prevailing weather conditions: in dry, warm conditions there would be no plume and in humid, cool conditions there would be.

Why do we need biomass if we have gas, solar and wind already?

The facility provides baseload power, running 24 hours, 7 days a week. Baseload power is not provided by other renewable technologies such as solar and wind, which are weather dependent. As Saskatchewan shifts towards a larger percentage of renewables within the energy mix, maintaining baseload capacity is increasingly important.

Current federal regulations require all conventional coal-fired power stations to be decommissioned by 2030. This project will help ensure energy security for the province, contribute to the decarbonisation of the electricity grid, and also bring significant investment and new jobs to the province.

How long will the plant last?

The plant has a proven design lifetime of over 25 years and it is expected this could exceed 50 years with the relevant maintenance and upgrade work.

How many jobs will be created?

We expect to create c.400 jobs with each facility. These will range from construction to supply chain activities as well as permanent roles within the plant. Illustratively, the jobs could be comprised of:

  • c.250 during construction
  • c.38 skilled, permanent jobs for operations and maintenance, alongside office work such as accounting, HR and senior management roles
  • c.22 full time and c.90 seasonal positions within the supply chain

Indirectly, further employment will develop from business opportunities arising from the utilisation of by-products (e.g., heat) and other supply chain activities (e.g. wood processing). The roles are well-suited to the existing SK workforce given the transferable skillsets from the coal industry, enabling retention of jobs following the coal transition.

Will crops be planted specifically for the REP?

No. It is intended that fuel supplies will be met by existing production of cereals. As straw is a by-product of cereal production – sourcing the fuel will not displace any land from producing food. Rather, the ability to sell the straw boosts the potential income from the cereal crop for the farmer, helping to make food production in the area more efficient.

Can I supply the facility with feedstock?

As the project develops, we will be working with farmers, custom operators, and hauliers to assist us in the baling and hauling of straw residue to the facilities. A variety of contracts are available, which are paid monthly to enable cash flow planning.

If this is of interest, please get in touch via the Contact Us page and we will be in touch for an informal discussion about the contracts on offer. Please include a short background on yourself, your farm (if applicable) and what contracts you may be interested in.

Is biomass renewable?

Yes – the carbon emissions from combustion of the fuel are considered neutral and therefore the direct carbon emissions are very small.

Combustion of biomass releases carbon dioxide (CO2). However, the organic material used as feedstock will have captured almost the same amount of CO2 through photosynthesis while growing as it releases when combusted, making biomass a carbon-neutral energy source.

Please see the ‘The Facility’ page for further information on carbon emissions.

How does the biomass facility work?

Please see the ‘The Facility’ page for a description of the process