Energy Manager

University’s biomass plant generates international accolades for energy‑efficiency gains

August 31, 2022  By Staff

Dalhousie and its consulting partner FVB Energy received a coveted global innovation award in June from the International District Energy Association. (Danny Abriel photos; ceremony photo provided)

Dalhousie fired up its revamped biomass plant in Truro, N.S. for the first time a few years ago touting a lofty goal for a 30 per cent jump in energy efficiency.

Turns out, the facility’s planners could’ve been even more ambitious when setting their targets.

“On average, we are producing energy somewhere between 10-15 per cent above what was expected in our business case,” says Darrell Boutilier, director of operations with Facilities Management at Dal and a key planner on the project.

That’s enough power to satisfy nearly 75 per cent of all the Truro campus’ electricity needs, an achievement that recently landed Dalhousie and its consulting partner FVB Energy a coveted global award for innovation from the International District Energy Association (IDEA).


“This has not been shown before on this kind of scale,” said Bob Smith, chairman for the IDEA Innovation Award committee, in a statement recognizing the accomplishment in June.

Dal’s facility does not directly power the campus. Instead, the electricity generated by the plant feeds into the province’s power grid, which Dal then buys back at a lower rate as part of an agreement with the province.

At the heart of this success lies a sophisticated bit of technology called an organic rankine cycle turbine. Dal adopted the new system on FVB Energy’s recommendation, becoming the first university in North America to deploy such technology.

When coupled with other plant upgrades, the new system provides other advantages as well.

For starters, the university now supplies all its campus heating needs in Truro using residual heat generated from the plant’s electricity production — an accomplishment made possible through replacing an aging steam-powered network with more efficient water-based heating.

Members of the Dalhousie and FVB Energy teams accept the Innovation award at the IDEA conference in Toronto in June.



Print this page


Stories continue below