The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has announced a new $2.4-million project to study ways to replace coal with agriculture biomass. The project, which is in partnership with the Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association (OSCI), will look at crops such as miscanthus, switchgrass and native prairie grasses.
The study is the result of an Ontario government mandate that thermal power generating stations such as Nanticoke and Lambton stop burning coal for energy by the end of 2014. As a result, the OFA has met with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to discuss replacing coal with agricultural biomass as a fuel for energy production.
Green Energy Solutions
“Ontario farmers have the ability to offer green energy solutions and OFA is ensuring they have a role in the replacement of fuel, earning acceptable returns in doing so,” says OFA president Bette Jean Crews. Adds Barry Hill, president of the OSCIA, “This project is a priority in that it requires two to three years to establish biomass crops like miscanthus, switchgrass or prairie grasses, all of which provide a solid energy source.”
The $2.4-million project will look at options for growing biomass economically and sustainably at a field scale, as well as ways for converting biomass to pellets to meet OPG’s specifications to achieve the cleanest burn and highest energy value. It will involve approximately 900 acres of commercial farmland.
A Transformative Project
Funding for the project comes from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP), and is delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC). “This is the largest contribution the AAC has delivered under the CAAP and it is expected the results from this project will be transformative to Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food industry,” says Jim Rickard, chair of the AAC.