A new online tool will help rural communities in British Columbia determine if debris left by local wildfire prevention work can provide a sustainable – and economically beneficial – source of fuel for clean energy production.
Details of the Fire Interface Rural Screening Tool for Heating – FIRST Heat – are contained in a new white paper from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), a collaboration of BC’s four research-intensive universities. The paper, Fire in the Woods or Fire in the Boiler?, was produced by PICS-funded researchers from the University of British Columbia and two NGOs, the Community Energy Association (CEA) and the Wood Waste to Rural Heat Project.
Wildfires in BC are becoming increasingly common due to global warming’s byproducts of hotter, drier summers and mountain pine beetle affected dried-out forests, and with the increasing population of people living in the wildland-urban interface, according to the report. Rural residents also face higher energy rates than those in the Lower Mainland, and more than 60 percent of BC has no natural gas supply. Some 57 BC communities are off both the electricity and gas grids, and have to bring fuel in.