Just five or six years ago, you could hear in most biomass conferences across Canada that district heating was mostly an European concept that had little chance of taking off here. Well, apparently things have changed rapidly in the past couple of years. In Quebec many projects of heat networks are currently brewing in many regions (for example in La Tuque, Haute-Mauricie, right). This is due in part to the work of forest cooperatives, which are devoting time and effort to develop expertise and organize forest biomass supply chains, and also to well-targeted financial incentives from the government of Quebec through its Energy Efficiency Agency programs. Still, pressure is high on the few heating plants that are already up and running, like the one in Amqui (Matapédia; collaborators from Finland were involved in this project); they are setting benchmarks for other projects, and their success (or lack thereof) will likely determine the level of social acceptance for such projects in other regions of Quebec and the enthusiasm of other groups across the province for going ahead with their own plans.
For an overview of heat network projects in Quebec, see the presentation given by Eugène Gagné, from the Fedération des coopératives forestières du Québec, at the biomass conference held on November 4th in Amqui.