THUNDER BAY – The Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE) are supporting two more projects that will secure Thunder Bay and the Northwest as the epicentre of the new bio-economy in Ontario. CRIBE is providing $467,212 to a partnership with Confederation College to develop the Bio-Energy Learning and Research Centre (BLRC) which will contain a fuel testing lab, demonstration space, and a separate 150 KW boiler dedicated to research and learning with associated emissions monitoring equipment.
This Learning Centre will be the first facility in Ontario to provide hands-on training to students in this emerging bio-energy field. Being able to train students and share knowledge here in the north will be integral to the success of many upcoming small to mid-size biomass projects in Ontario.
The impact these kinds of projects could have on remote First Nations, mostly off-the-grid and dependent on costly diesel generators, is significant. In fact a few First Nations communities are currently moving forward with plans for small scale biomass power-generation. They will now be able to receive training to set up and run these facilities much closer to home.
The emission monitoring equipment will also provide the Ministry of Environment (MOE) with much-needed data on smaller scale projects.
CRIBE is also providing $70,839 in funding to Atikokan Renewable Fuels (ARF) to begin testing various natural additives to wood pellets (to be used for biomass) to improve their performance in cooperation with Lakehead University. This important first step gets ARF that much closer to producing high quality pellets that will feed biomass energy facilities. ARF has also been working very closely with a number of First Nation Communities involved in biomass projects to share knowledge and experience.
As they moved forward with their project, ARF will also significantly benefit from the knowledge base and testing facilities being established at the Bio-Energy Learning and Research Centre.
“Our government’s decision to create and fund CRIBE and to locate it here in Thunder Bay was a key component of our strategy to address challenges in the forest industry,” said Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan. “It is gratifying to see this decision, made years ago, to continue to yield positive results for our region.”
“The new Bio-Energy Learning and Research Centre here at Confederation College will help our students become part of a new skilled work force in the emerging field of bio-energy”, said Michael Gravelle, Minister of Natural Resources.
“With important hands-on training they will certainly prove invaluable as our government helps the forest industry transition to the new bio-economy. This will benefit a number of upcoming projects, including First Nations’ as they become more involved in their own biomass initiatives.”
“Finding innovative uses for resources will lead to new businesses and create jobs,” said Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Innovation. “CRIBE and Confederation College are helping establish Ontario’s leadership in the emerging bio-economy field.”
“Confederation College is excited to continue our investment into renewable energy technologies,” said College President, Jim Madder. “We believe renewable energy will be a key driver of sustainability and innovation and look forward to providing our students with access to state of the art equipment and expert faculty.”
“This funding from CRIBE is really going to help us to do the work to ensure that we can produce a superior pellet,” said Ed Fukushima, ARF. “We’ve been working on this for a long time and it is gratifying to see things progressing quickly now.”
“Creating a knowledge-based bio-economy hub here in Thunder Bay is one of CRIBE’s most important mandate items,” said Lorne Morrow CEO of CRIBE. “Northwestern Ontario was so hard hit by the downturn in the forest industry, we really needed to refocus on our strengths. With this announcement we’ve succeed in creating the linkages that will support the new bio-economy industry in Ontario.