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Agricultural Campus Biomass Thermal Plant Upgrade


The thermal plant at Dalhousie’s Agricultural Campus has been in use for close to 25 years and is near the end of its useful life. This $24.2 million project will replace the aging steam lines with hot water lines, replace the wood boiler, add appropriate and required air quality controls, and add a turbine to create electricity. Biomass is fuel consisting of wood processing wastes, agricultural wastes, and energy crops. Also called the Biomass Co-Gen Project, this will support the community and university’s carbon reduction goals as well as address facilities renewal costs of an existing end-of-life system. It will also create opportunity to connect research, teaching and operations.


This project will create electricity (up to a maximum of 1 MW) and will increase Dalhousie’s commitment to Sustainability and produce 30% less thermal energy by converting the distribution system to hot water.  

The biomass supply procurement, use, and restoration will follow bioenergy guidelines identified by Dalhousie. These principles incorporate the Nova Scotia Community Feed-in Tariff (COMFIT) requirements and university sustainability values. The biomass requirements for the plant would be approximately 20,000 tonnes per year. The project aims to work with local organizations to obtain supply that will:

  • Maximize available waste biomass sources for use. Potential supplies include yard and tree trimming material, sawmill and wood processing residues, farm-based waste, and clean construction and demolition and fiber waste.
  • Support the integration of agricultural energy crops (such as willow) into biomass feed stocks.
  • Recognize arable land used for food production should not be targeted for bioenergy production.
  • Utilize low-value forest biomass stem wood from environmentally managed lands such as those who receive sustainable forest certification.
  • Utilize low-value wood from already existing and approved road-side clearing, thinning, and development projects.
  • Support silviculture initiatives that enhance healthy forest ecosystems.
  • Support local economic development.
  • Meet and/or beat provincial air quality regulations. 

Project Overview

  • Location: Agricultural Campus Heating Plant Building (Truro)
  • Budget: $24.2 million
  • Construction start date: Summer 2017
  • Installation: Fall - winter 2017/18
  • Commissioning and operation: June 2018 
  • Construction firm: TBD

Community Information and Discussion Session

An information and discussion session was held November 30, 2015. 



Mary Jane Webber, BA, BJ

Manager, Communications and Marketing 

Facilities Management Department