Wood Pellet Heating in Norman Wells, NWT & Revelstoke, BC
In many rural and northern communities, more and more people are transitioning to advanced biomass heating, such as wood pellet stoves and boilers, and this technology will only become more common over the next few decades as it becomes more efficient and affordable. The Northwest Territories has been at the forefront of adopting wood pellets for heating since many of its communities are isolated, experience harsh winter conditions, and either have limited supplies of natural gas or lack connections altogether.
One such place is the small community of Norman Wells, NWT located approximately 800 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife with a population of roughly 800 people. Approximately five years ago, the community was notified that its natural gas supply was being cut off due to dwindling supplies so residents quickly began exploring alternative sources of heating, including wood pellets. Initially, the demand for pellets was only at 80 tonnes but it rapidly increased to over 1,000 tonnes as residents began to install pellet stoves and boilers to heat homes. Although the systems are expensive to install, they provide an efficient-source of heating and savings on fuel costs make the investment worthwhile in the long-run. Bags of pellets can be kept in resident’s homes or many communities also have silos to help with storage. Due to its relatively quick transition and efficient heating, many communities are looking to Norman Wells as an example of what the future could hold for heating systems as natural gas and diesel become harder to access and expensive to use.
Many Canadians in other parts of the country are also beginning to recognize the value of biomass heating, including some residents of Revelstoke, BC since the community is one of the few places in the province that does not have access to natural gas. Many cities and provinces also offer rebate and incentive programs to help with installation costs and should be explored when thinking about transitioning to a new heating and/or cooling system.
Ivan Semeniuk, Wood pellets help the north break its diesel habit, The Globe and Mail, 2014. At https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/breakthrough/wood-pellets-heat-up-northern-energy-mix/article16327067/
NWT Biomass Energy Association, Northern challenges, northern solutions, 2015. At http://nwtbiomassenergy.ca/blog/northern-challenges-northern-solutions/
Gordon Murray, Heating with pellets, Canadian Biomass, 2015. At https://www.canadianbiomassmagazine.ca/heating-with-pellets-5079/