Energy Manager

UBC selects Nexterra/GE biomass power system for campus green energy project

VANCOUVER, BC — The University of British Columbia (UBC) and Nexterra Systems Corp., a leading biomass gasification company, announced last week that UBC will install and demonstrate a unique, on-site biomass-fuelled combined heat and power (CHP) solution developed by Nexterra and GE Power & Water's gas engine division. The CHP system will be located at UBC's Vancouver campus, where it will provide clean, renewable heat and electricity for the campus, while offering a platform for bioenergy research.

The new CHP system, the first of its kind in North America, combines Nexterra gasification and syngas conditioning technologies with a GE high efficiency Jenbacher gas engine. Woody biomass will be gasified and converted into clean synthetic gas (or "syngas") that will be directly fired into a gas engine. The CHP system will be capable of providing very high net efficiencies - up to 65 per cent in cogeneration mode. The system will produce renewable heat and power while surpassing Metro Vancouver's air quality standards.

The solution will produce two megawatts of clean, cost-effective electricity that will offset UBC's existing power consumption. This is the equivalent electricity required to power about 1,500 homes. The system will also generate enough steam to displace up to 12 per cent of the natural gas that UBC uses for campus heating, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 4500 tonnes per year. This is the equivalent of taking more than 1100 cars off the road.

"This project demonstrates UBC's leadership in sustainability and our concept of the campus as a living laboratory," said UBC President Prof. Stephen Toope. "This groundbreaking partnership is helping UBC achieve its sustainability goals through the convergence of research, operations and industry in the bioenergy sphere."

"After working very closely with Nexterra, we are very pleased to be in the commercialization phase of this unique power solution," says Prady Iyyanki, CEO, gas engines for GE Power & Water. "Many of GE's customers are looking for a biomass solution to help them achieve their renewable energy objectives. We believe this new CHP solution represents a potential breakthrough for biomass power generation and look forward to working with UBC and Nexterra to successfully complete the demonstration."

"This project represents a significant milestone for Nexterra and we are proud to be part of such a high caliber team that includes UBC, GE and FPInnovations," said Jonathan Rhone, President and CEO of Nexterra. "There is global demand for a new standard in biomass CHP systems and we believe that our technology is well positioned as a game-changer with tremendous replication potential."

UBC is also collaborating with FPInnovations to house the CHP System in a building designed and constructed using cross-laminate timber (CLT). CLT is a new solid wood building material that can be used as a low carbon, renewable alternative to steel frame construction. This will be one of the first CLT buildings in North America and will demonstrate its market potential for the forest industry.

Funding support is being provided from the following organizations: Government of Canada's Clean Energy Fund administered through Natural Resources Canada; Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), an arm's-length, not-for-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada; the BC Bioenergy Network (BCBN); and FPInnovations.

Nexterra is a private company based in Vancouver, BC. For more information visit

February 24, 2010  By Newswire

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