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We've all taken a walk in nature and experienced the relaxing and often regenerating, healing impact it can have on us, right?
By any metric, the renewable energy sector is a growth industry. By the end of 2014 there were 7.7 million jobs in the renewable energy industry world wide, up 18 per cent over the year before. This according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. And that doesn't include large hydro.
Climate change ought to be a major issue this election, but I'm saddened to note that it has received little attention. Perhaps a quick update on both the problem and the solutions would add some helpful perspective in these final days of the campaign.
One aspect of the climate change debate I find particularly troubling is the extent to which CO2 has come to dominate the narrative. By limiting our discussions to CO2 we ignore the topics we can all agree upon. Today I will talk about a topic about which even the most dedicated denialists and the most excitable catastrophists should be able to agree on: black carbon.
Wood is certainly not a new fuel. We've been using it since the invention of fire to keep warm, but can it be a big part of our electricity mix in our modern age? Biomass provides green baseload power -- an important consideration for grid operators who want to integrate more renewable energy by balancing the intermittent nature of solar and wind.
The great boreal forest straddles the country and provinces from Nova Scotia to British Columbia have ample forestry resources. In a place like Canada biomass to energy can make a lot of sense. So we headed to the largest, closest biomass operation we could find -- the Alberta Pacific Forest Industries (ALPAC) pulp mill.
With an increase in population and the continuing threat of the end of the fossil fuel era, researchers have looked in other directions to help keep the lights on. In particular, one incredibly abundant resource on the planet, dead organic material collectively known as biomass has been identified as the future or renewable energy.
The rocket mass heater will challenge your traditional pre-conception of a wood-burning stove. The wood is fed in vertically and the fire is contained. It's a hyper-efficient wood-burning stove that burns the biomass internally and at higher temperatures than a typical stove.
District heating is a simple idea. Produce the heat in a large centralized plant and then pipe it to nearby customers, but it still hasn't cracked into the mainstream in Canada yet. The heating provided by the biomass project can cover half of the heating load on the coldest prairie winter day of the year and the vast majority of the heating loads the rest of the year.