ACFOR is an energy company providing a local solution for heat production: wood chips. Our company is a vertically-integrated, renewable energy company, which means we install, own, and operating the heating systems themselves as well as ensure the quality and ecological benefits of forestry operations. We also produce and deliver the wood chips.
In the diagram below, you'll find more information on each of the core operations.
Stable and Clean Energy
Our company is unique because it is vertically-integrated and controls the quality of every step of production. Because of this, we can provide stable energy as it's sourced in-house and locally. We as Maritimers become more resilient and are less vulnerable to outside energy shocks or energy shortages. We also can put a guarantee on the high ecological value of our energy as it is all sourced from ACFOR's own ecological forestry operations.
To simplify our work, we'll present the four core operations of our business:
- Ecological Forestry
- Fuel Production
- Boiler installation and maintenance
- E contracting
Our work therefore combines ecological forestry, production of fuel, the installation of boilers (bioheat systems), the maintenance of the boilers (bioheat systems) and the sale of heat to the end user.
Ecological Forestry - Moving Beyond Industrial Forestry
With sustainable planning in mind, wood is a renewable and inexhaustible resource. We want to work with the forest and with forest owners so that nature, people and communities can benefit the most from our native Acadian forests.
ACFOR is the leader of ecological forestry in the Maritimes, having successfully proven that ecology and economy can go hand in hand, as can restoration and prosperity.
We work to protect and restore forests, we are pushing forestry past the era of industrial-style clear cuts. Our name "ACFOR" is an acronym for Acadian Forest for which we are deeply passionate.
Benefits of sustainable forestry
- Thinning versus clear-cut: The most obvious difference is our methods. We use selective harvesting as our main technique whereas industrial forestry uses predominantly clear cuts which are destructive to the forests.
- Balance: We have a balanced approach whereas we balance short and long term gain. Clear cuts change the forest ecosystem. We restore them. When you selectively harvest, you have some profits today, and much, much more later.
- Restoration versus destruction: Clear-cuts destroy the forest ecosystems, we restore them.
- Integrity of Forests: Industrial forestry does a lot of tree plantings on plantation, but trees do make a forest. A forest is much complex than that, we keep the integrity of forests intact, whereas plantations lack biodiversity and ecosystems..
- Ecosystems: Forest ecosystems are complex with multiple interactions between trees, plants, shrubs, wild-life, birds, fungi, moss, bugs, bacteria, water and more. We preserve and promote forest ecosystems.
- Benefits of Forests: We ensure that we all can benefit from restored forests, which means cleaner air, purer water, aesthetic value of the forest as well as hiking/walking through the forest.
Production and delivery of high quality wood chips
When Dick Arsenault relaunched the bioenergy movement in PEI in 2009 with his Evangeline boiler and subsequently with the Westilsle boiler in 2010, he quickly realized that high quality wood chips were essential. There simply was not an adequate supplier of high quality wood chips on PEI. The problems were that the fuel was too wet, the wood chips delivered often had too much dirt and twigs which blocked the heating systems and stopped producing heat.
Addressing these concerns, ACFOR Energy started to develop its own wood chips in order to eliminate this problem. Since producing their own wood chips, there haven't been any complications relating to the chips' quality.
There also wasn't a wood chip fuel delivery service which would be adequate to supply several boilers with the high quality wood chips that we wanted. The main issue with fuel delivery was that to fill up a container with wood chips, we needed a feed auger on each storage bin, which was highly expensive. ACFOR Energy decided to take the route of innovation again by creating and building the world's first wood chip delivery truck with an auger installed on it.
Installation and Maintenance of bioenergy systems
We have a team of world-class experts who come and overlook the installations. We also use local construction crews, plumbers, electricians to complete the new bioenergy plant.
The installations generally follow the same process:
- preparations are made for the boiler site;
- The boiler house is constructed starting with the wood chip bin;
- A containerized unit which includes the boiler, the controls and electrical is then shipped and installed in place;
- If need be digging for the piping (hot water pipes) are installed and hooked up to the buidling;
- The boiler is hooked up to the building's existing heating and electrical systems, and they are off and running with local, sustainable bioheat.
Maintenance is done regularly. We have a yearly complete maintenance and daily checkups on the state of all our systems using real-time monitoring systems. We are proud to say that our track record is of 100% customer satisfaction for over 5 years of operations in PEI.
How does a Bioenergy system work?
It works similar in performance to an oil furnace, our systems work with existing oil furnaces (they stay as back-up heat sources). Here are the main differences between oil furnaces and our bioheat boilers:
- Fuel source: local wood chips instead of imported oil;
- Fuel production: Instead of fossil fuels drilled deep underground and where money leaves the Maritimes, we use locally harvested wood chips, creating jobs and wealth at home;
- Fuel Delivery: These are similar, except we have a truck specifically for delivery of fuel;
- Fuel Storage: Instead of oil tanks, we have wood chip bins;
- Oil Spill vs Wood Chip Spill: The other day, we accidentally dropped a pile of wood chips. Before cleaning it up, we joked that this wood chip spill definitely is a lot better than an oil spill, and it smells so woody-fresh!
- Automation: The systems are fully-automated; much like an oil furnace, our systems are highly efficient (92% and more).