Terms of Reference - Technical Working Group of the Steering Committee for the Project to Commercialize Agricultural Biomass for Combustion Energy

Table of Contents

  1. Background
  2. Purpose
  3. Tasks
  4. Deliverables
  5. Technical Issues
  6. Members of the Technical Working Group
  7. Decision-Making

Background

The Technical Working Group was formed by the Steering Committee for the Project to Commercialize Agricultural Biomass for Combustion Energy to coordinate the analysis of the technical feasibility of commercializing agricultural biomass for combustion energy in Ontario.

While replacement of coal with agricultural biomass in Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) units is the main focus of this project, the technical analysis will also address other potential users of agricultural biomass including the cement industry, agricultural operations (e.g. greenhouses, livestock operations) and others seeking an alternative fuel source.

Purpose

The purpose of the Technical Working Group is to coordinate the analysis of technical factors related to commercialization of agricultural biomass for combustion energy in Ontario. The working group's input on technical feasibility from the farm to the aggregator will be a key consideration in the Steering Committee's overall assessment of whether commercialization of agricultural biomass should be pursued.

Tasks

  1. In fall 2010, confirm the technical issues to be addressed, in consultation with the Business Case Working Group and the Steering Committee.
  2. Draw on the necessary expertise and research to enable the working group to address technical considerations related to development of the value chain for agricultural biomass.
  3. Analyze the working group's ability to deliver on these Terms of Reference and the need for additional resources.

Deliverables

  1. Quarterly status updates to the Steering Committee on progress in analyzing technical issues. The updates will include a synthesis of what is known and still needs to be known to complete the analysis.
  2. By the end of 2011, an interim technical analysis will be completed for Steering Committee consideration. The analysis will identify limitations, due for example, to the need for more research. While the interim technical analysis will facilitate the Steering Committee's overall assessment of agricultural biomass feasibility, the Steering Committee may direct the continuation of the working group's analysis beyond 2011.

Technical Issues

The working group will focus on technical issues related to agricultural biomass for combustion that cover stages in the value chain from the farm to the aggregator. The issues include:

  • Agronomy (cultivar selection, rotational cycles, pest management, fertilization, yields, residue removal, harvesting equipment, logistics, etc.)
  • Handling, storage, processing, and transportation from the farm to aggregator
  • Quantity and quality of available biomass
  • Market demand
  • Other items identified in the Steering Committee's Draft Work Plan (June 14, 2010)

OPG is undertaking technical studies related to transportation of processed biomass from the aggregator to their generation facilities, combustion chemistry and the fuel specification. OPG's representative on the working group will share information from these studies, as they may impact the farm to aggregator stages of the value chain.

Markets for agricultural biomass other than OPG may also contribute information to the Technical Working Group on their particular needs. Technical information from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture's "Transformative Project to Generate Energy for Ontario by Developing an Innovative Agricultural Biomass Value Chain Sector" will be considered e.g. jurisdictional scan, market opportunity study, aggregation pilot, and farm-scale demonstration plots. Likewise, information from academic, government and private research projects will also be considered.

Members of the Technical Working Group

The composition of the working group may vary over time based on the issues being examined. Experts may be invited to participate on an on-going basis on the working group or contribute on an ad hoc basis. The core members include:

  • Rene Van Acker, University of Guelph, Dept. of Plant Agriculture (Chair)
  • Bill Deen, University of Guelph, Dept. of Plant Agriculture
  • Barry Hill, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association
  • Bryan Gilvesy, Norfolk ALUS
  • Don Nott, Nott Farms
  • Ray Robertson, Ontario Forage Council
  • Leanne Wilson, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers
  • Mark Schwartz, Greenfield Ethanol
  • Robert Cummings, Lafarge - Bath Plant
  • David Armitage, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
  • Phil Reinert, Ontario Power Generation
  • Annette Anderson, OMAFRA, Agriculture Development Branch
  • Helma Geerts, OMAFRA, Food Safety and Environmental Policy Branch

Decision-Making

The Technical Working Group will provide information and advice to the Steering Committee and the Business Case Working Group.

While private business may consider the information collected for the technical analysis, this project is not intended to be prescriptive about different business case models, technologies or opportunities to be pursued.
Steering Committee for the Project to Commercialize Agricultural Biomass for Combustion Energy

Figure 1. Steering Committee for the Project to Commercialize Agricultural Biomass for Combustion Energy

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For more information:
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E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 01 December 2010
Last Reviewed: 01 December 2010