Kluane First Nation installed a district heating system in Burwash Landing in 1998. The system provides heat produced from a wood chip hot water boiler to the Jacquot Hall, the First Nation administrative building, Sedata building, and garage via an underground system of pipes. In 2014, the district heating system generated approximately 223,000 kWh of heat generated by 40-60 cords of wood chipped on site. Biomass for the system is harvested locally and chipped using a Bandit chipper.
Kluane First Nation developed the district heating system, rated at 2 MBTU/hr, to make use of surplus wood in the community. A forest fire in the area in 1999, further added to the availability of biomass. Heat was primarily generated from oil and propane prior to installing the system. System design was contracted from the Alberta-based APSCO Engineering Ltd.
A local champion was key as the community learned about the system and dealt with the installation challenges that often accompany biomass systems.
One such challenge was variability in heat transfer from the boiler during its first few years of use. As much as 20°C of heat could be lost through the distribution pipes. The local champion, a former employee of the First Nation’s Public Works and Municipal Services Department, replaced the steel piping with thermos-flex piping. This reduced the heat loss to 2°C and enabled Kluane First Nation to save on the amount of wood used in the boiler and associated costs.
The local champion also worked to:
In the fall of 2015, the boiler for the district heating system developed major leaks and was found to be irreparable.
This confirmed the biomass system and boiler’s life cycle to be about 20 years.
Kluane First Nation replaced the failed boiler with an outdoor, log-fed, wood boiler rated at 1 mBTU/h.
This case study was done in partnership with the Kluane First Nation.