Family-Run FarmingBig Savings for Farming in Southern Ontario


Biomass to Energy: Reducing Energy Costs and Emissions

The Tiessen family operates greenhouses on farms throughout southern Ontario, growing produce for Canadian and US markets. Running greenhouses year-round, especially in a cold climate, creates high heating demand, a need historically been met by fossil-fuel-fired boilers. The high cost and carbon pollution related to fossil-fuel-based boiler operations in the greenhouse led farm operators to investigate alternatives.

Three of the family farms – C&B Farms, Prism Farms and Pyramid Farms – found local suppliers of woodchips from industrial sources that would have otherwise been destined for disposal in municipal landfills. These farms installed biomass boilers in the greenhouses to provide a cleaner, alternative heat supply to fossil fuels.

Implementing biomass-to-energy systems throughout the greenhouses results in both indirect and direct GHG emission reductions. Indirectly, emission reductions occur through the generation of heat using biomass in place of fossil fuels. Direct GHG emission reductions occur from the avoidance of methane emissions from the decomposition of biomass in a landfill, as the waste is instead diverted for use in greenhouse operations.

Biomass-to-energy projects have created a new market for biomass for sale to third party suppliers who then distribute the biomass fuel to end users, such as the Tiessen’s farm operations. The greenhouse operators were able to reduce price volatility related to fossil fuel pricing, and capture carbon-reduction value by selling offset credits.

To date (2006 – 2015), the project has resulted in reduced emissions of over 150,000 tonnes CO2e. Ultimately (2006 – 2021), emission reductions are expected to surpass 240,000 tonnes CO2e.