Stantec announced it has been selected by the Onimiskiw Opitciwan Limited Partnership to design the future biomass cogeneration plant for the Atikamekw community of Opitciwan in the Mauricie region of Quebec. The project aims to provide a clean and renewable energy source to the community while promoting economic and social development in the region.

The new cogeneration plant will supply electricity to the Opitciwan community, located on the north shore of the Gouin Reservoir, 220 kilometers (km) northwest of La Tuque. As it will be built near Opitciwan’s existing sawmill, the plant will utilize cutting-edge technologies to convert biomass generated by the sawmill—such as bark, wood chips, and other organic waste—into electricity and heat. This approach will significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while contributing to the growth and diversification of the local economy. The 4.8-megawatt (MW) plant will be connected to Hydro-Québec’s power grid and generate electricity for the community. The plant will also supply power to the sawmill through 4.16 kilovolt (kV) and 25 kV feeders.

“We are proud and honored to partner with the Atikamekw community of Opitciwan on this innovative project that will accelerate the energy transition and boost economic and social development in the region,” said Frédéric Lefebvre, vice president of Energy at Stantec. “This project highlights our solid commitment to developing sustainable and resilient solutions to address current and future energy challenges. We’re excited to extend our longstanding collaboration with First Nations, focusing on sustainable development, respect for Indigenous cultures, and improving the quality of life for local communities.”

In February, 2023, the Conseil des Atikamekw d’Opitciwan (CAO), Hydro-Québec (HQ) and the Société en commandite Onimiskiw Opitciwan (SCOO) have forged a historic agreement to build a forest biomass cogeneration plant to supply Opitciwan. The future off-grid system will be the first of its kind in an Indigenous community in Québec. (Éric Massicotte for Hydro-Québec)

The installation will be the first biomass cogeneration plant in Quebec using Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology. The process efficiently produces electricity from residual heat sources and reduces operating costs through the durability and performance of its equipment. In addition to promoting the sustainable management of local natural resources, the project will reduce heavy transport on the road to Opitciwan, previously attributed to diesel transportation and the transport of sawmill bark and raw timber. It will also reduce GHG emissions by 13,000 metric tons in CO2 equivalent per year, equivalent to removing 5,000 cars from Quebec’s roads each year.

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“This long-awaited project will have major economic, environmental, and social benefits for current and future members of the Opitciwan community,” said Denis Clary, president of the Onimiskiw Opitciwan Limited Partnership. In addition to providing a clean energy source to our community, the cogeneration plant will create numerous job and training opportunities for Atikamekws in the region. We look forward to starting this unique and promising project in Quebec with the Stantec team, the Atikamekw community, and our many partners, including Hydro-Québec.”

Work is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2024, with the plant expected to be operational by the end of summer 2026. In addition to detailed engineering, Stantec will provide technical support during procurement, construction, and commissioning of the plant. The firm will work closely with the community and First Nations members to ensure the long-term success of the project.

Featured image: (Stantec)

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