Biomass to Energy
The use of community-based biomass energy systems in rural and remote communities in Canada is relatively new, as indicated in the previous articles in this series, with most communities having only a few seasons of operational experience at most. This fourth and final installment in a series of articles focuses specifically on the nine communities’ needs and experiences related to the training of operators and capacity building.
The communities reported that training local operators and capacity building are critically important to the successful operation of community-based biomass energy systems. In most cases, local operators were involved with the installation process and learned about the technology as part of this process. Initial training on system operation was carried out by the system installer in all communities. Involving local operators in the installation and initial training was reported to be very effective in training the first round of operators.
Follow-up and training new operators as the initial operators move on is more of a challenge, particularly in communities that do not have dedicated operators and high staff turnover. The communities have addressed this in different ways with varying degrees of success. Training efforts are summarized in the table below. In some cases, local operators have been sent to Europe to receive training directly from the technology provider or elsewhere in the country to train on boilers that were previously installed. The degree of initial and follow-up training and support from equipment providers and contractors are factors that should be considered when selecting suppliers and installers.