Indigenous Forestry Sector Technical Support Program
Since its launch in 2007, FPInnovations has been supporting Indigenous stakeholders in the development of economic opportunities as well as new products and business in the forest sector. FPInnovations works directly with community leaders to determine the products and services that are appropriate for the specific needs of each community.
We believe in working directly with the people in the community to create solutions and build partnerships. More than 75 Indigenous communities and/or organizations in British Columbia alone have engaged in this program. Building on this success, the program expanded into Alberta in 2014 and the Maritimes. Additionally, FPInnovations is working on a project to project basis with Indigenous stakeholders across the country.
Kluskus Combined Heat and Power System
The Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation is a small community located in central British Columbia, with their main territory stretching to the west of Quesnel along the Black Water River. The community is not connected to the power or natural gas grid and relies on diesel and propane supplies being brought in along the 2-hour drive on forest services road.
First Nation: Lhoosk’uz Dené
Location: Kluskus, Central BC
Chief: Liliane Squinas
The Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation is a small community located in central British Columbia, with their main territory stretching to the west of Quesnel along the Black Water River. At the heart of the territory lies Kluskus R1, the main settlement of the Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation right on the shores of Kluskus Lake. The community is not connected to the power or natural gas grid and relies on diesel and propane supplies being brought in along the 2-hour drive on forest services road.
The Quesnel Timber Supply Area has been heavily affected by the mountain pine beetle outbreak and consequently experienced intense wildfires in recent years. Kluskus was evacuated three years in a row, narrowly escaping complete destruction. Apart from the immense devastation of the immediate area around the community, these disturbances caused severe consequences for traditional land use such as hunting and trapping, berry picking, and medicine.
Protecting the community from future wildfires while re-establishing the land base became the key focus for the Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation. This is where FPInnovations was called upon to provide guidance on identifying a solution that could not only protect the community from wildfire, but also utilize biomass materials around the Kluskus. FPInnovations suggested to go one step further and make use of the biomass to provide sustainable heat and power to the community.
Description of project
In initial discussions with Allan Okabe, band manager for the Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation, it became clear to FPInnovations that the key need was to reduce the amount of biomass around the community to mitigate the fire risk. While the devastation of the entire territory was too large of a scope to begin with, FPInnovations suggested focusing on the immediate area around Kluskus, taking advantage of FireSmart operations—a program aimed at reducing the risk that wildfires pose to populated areas—to fuel a potential combined heat and power unit. A feasibility study revealed that the approach was a good fit for the small community and the idea was received positively by the Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation.
Thinning work to reduce the level of fire risk was already underway, yielding the equivalent of 10 hectares (about 2,000 cubic metres) of dead standing trees which could be used to fuel the unit. Harvested trees already showed great potential to be processed into chips or fuel for the cogeneration system.
With clear marching orders in hands, researchers from FPInnovations identified a suitable CHP system. Made in Finland, the mobile ‘Volter’ unit, installed in a 40’ shipping container, allows for the generation of heat and energy by converting forest biomass into a wood gas, and then transforming it into 110kW of heat and 40kW of power. Stringent tests, predominantly on feedstock quality, were carried out at FPInnovations in Vancouver. The trial period also allowed for a training session, provided by Volter, to 10 members of the Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation.
During the trial and training period, FPInnovations continued to develop the project and completed all necessary engineering work to bring the energy system to Kluskus. After three joint funding applications, the project received $300,000 from the British Columbia Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative, $875,000 from Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities and $900,000 from Natural Resources Canada’s Indigenous Forestry Initiative. These funds, together with funding and technical support through FPInnovations Indigenous Forest Sector Technical Support Program, made it possible to move the system to Kluskus in early March 2021. The project is currently procuring equipment for the biomass supply chain and is working on the electrical interconnection in the community.
Upon installation, the unit will displace close to 100,000 litres of diesel per year and will also remove the equivalent of 300 tonnes of GHG emissions annually. The system will create two full-time jobs to operate the unit and 5 to 10 additional jobs in the feedstock supply chain.
The business model also significantly changed the economics in the community: while, historically, the community had to purchase diesel for the operation of the generators, this money will now remain within and benefit the community directly.
The community also plans to produce biomass from harvested trees, an activity that could represent an additional source of income, as well as use the heat from the CHP to achieve food security and for silviculture projects. But above all, these measures will help protect the community, and restore the natural forest environment.
Our territory has been heavily impacted by mountain pine beetle and several large wildfires. The combined heat and power generator provides us with a viable option for alternative energy. We will be transitioning from diesel generators to utilizing local biomass fuels. In addition to utilizing local biomass, we will also be able to implement our traditional knowledge and stewardship practices on the Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation territory.
The Lhoosk’uz Dené (Kluskus) Nation has been engaged with FPInnovations since we were introduced to the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology in 2018. Our off-grid community is sited approximately 190 km west of Quesnel, and is powered by diesel generators. Our territory was heavily impacted by pine beetle, and the dead pine is the required fuel to be chipped, dried, and fed into the CHP unit to produce the power supply for the community. We will be creating a green power supply, while removing the biomass fire hazard surrounding the community.
-Chief Liliane Squinas
FPInnovations concluding remarks
FPInnovations has been working on CHP technology for off-grid communities for the past 5 years, investigating technologies, biomass feedstock quality, and supply chains for a successful operation of these system. Working with the Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation on one of the first implementations in a remote community in Canada has been a great journey which will soon come to a big milestone with the installation of the CHP in the community. Although we know there is still much to tackle to ensure smooth operation, we are feeling very confident that other communities could follow the Lhoosk’uz Dené (Kluskus) Nation. We are very honored to support the community in this endeavor.
-Christoph Schilling – Indigenous Program Lead