Lafarge is working with a Kingston-based company called Performance Plants Inc, as well as scientists with both Queen’s University and the University of Guelph, to come up with a plan whereby local grown plant products will be processed and burned to provide power at the massive cement plant on Highway 33.
First off, Lafarge is working to determine what is the best crop or crops to use as biomass.
That’s where Performance Plants Inc comes in.
“Right now, Lafarge creates the heat for its cement process by burning coal, and gets that coal from Virginia. So there’s very little involvement in the energy supply component from the community around here. And this opportunity of having purpose-grown biomass, sustainably produced and involving local farmers, and all the people who have to ship it and handle it and work with it, that’s going to create of lot of job opportunities,” said Kevin Gellatly, Ph.D, of Performance Plants.
“And it’s also going to allow Lafarge and the community itself to reduce the amount of carbon emissions, as well as the other things that are emitted from the burning of coal. So it’s a very environmentally friendly thing to do, and it creates jobs.”
Gellatly and his colleagues are working with a variety of crops to try and enhance their growing capabilities, so that whatever biomass material is chosen, it is actually worthwhile, financially, for farmers to grow, but economically viable for Lafarge.
It is hoped, if Lafarge can get the approval of the provincial Ministry of the Environment (MOE), they will be able to do a test burn demonstration in the fall.
“And we hope the information that we get out of both these programs (the test burn, and the work on creating better crops) will tell us what is the right crop to grow, where we’re going to grow it, and advise the farmers as to the optimum way they can produce it so that it can be sold for a good price,” Gellatly said.
“That means the whole value chain is basically enhanced, and everyone makes money off of it.”