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Certification of Small Solid Biomass Boilers in Canada

Sector: Small Solid Biomass Boilers

Canadian Lead: This item is within Provincial jurisdiction in Canada. The Treasury Board of Canada serves as the liaison between the Provincial-Territorial Advisory Committee and the European Commission.

European Lead: European Commission, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) and CEN & CENELEC (European Committee for (electrotechnical) Standardization)

Issue: Certification of Small Solid Biomass Boilers in Canada

Small solid biomass boilers (SSBB) sold in Canada are required to meet the Canadian fabrication and certification requirements set out in the Boiler, pressure vessel, and pressure piping code (CSA B51), developed by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group). The CSA B51 standard is a broad standard used for all boilers with combustion chambers. In the EU, SSBB built in accordance with the CEN harmonised standard EN 303-5 are compliant with the Machinery Directive (Directive 2006/42/EC) requirements.

The EN 303-5 standard is a first party (self-declaratory) standard, while the CSA B51 standard requires third party certification. Design, manufacture and conformity assessment of SSBB substantially differ between the two systems. Stakeholders have raised that obtaining third party certification through CSA B51 in Europe is expensive. As a result, European manufacturers only offer a select few models in the Canadian market. Stakeholders have indicated that the modification of an EU manufactured boiler to obtain certification to CSA B51 would require full redesign, manufacture of special alloys in authorized facilities as well as repeated and rigorous inspection and certification by American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) authorized inspectors. Canadian manufacturers specialize in large biomass boilers and, to date, have not broadly manufactured the smaller units. Many European manufacturers do not have the appropriate factory equipment to process steel sheets thicker than 6mm. 

The Austrian Boiler association and the Wood Pellets Association of Canada are interested in seeing regulatory acceptance of the CEN EN 303-5 standard in Canada. The item was brought to the RCF for consideration by the European Commission in June 2019.

Wood pellets are characterised by some stakeholders as a cleaner alternative to other heating fuels such as coal, firewood, propane and electricity derived from non-renewable sources. Canada is the world’s third largest producer of wood pellets, and it retains a small portion of this fuel type. Stakeholders believe that an increase in accessibility to small solid biomass boilers could be an opportunity to expand their use in Canada. Since small solid biomass boilers sold in Canada are primarily sourced from the European Union, acceptance of the EN 303-5 standard could expedite the export process and allow for a larger variety of European boilers to be brought to market in Canada.

One Canadian Province, Prince Edward Island (PEI), has accepted with restrictions the EN 303-5 certification standard, which necessitated changes to both PEI’s Power Engineering Act Regulations and Boiler and Pressure Vessel Act Regulations. For example, restrictions include that boilers are operated at a reduced pressure (30 psi), that a trained person acceptable to PEI must operate the boiler, and that alarm monitoring systems must always be in use and acceptable to PEI. European small biomass boilers (EN 303-5) are designed for a maximum operating pressure of 3 bars (~45psi). A safety valve installed by the plumber opens at pressures over 3 bars and reduces the pressure. The welded boiler construction is type-tested with 6 bars and 100% of European boilers are tested during production process with a test pressure of 4.3 bars.


Regulations governing pressure vessels is within provincial jurisdiction and, as such, the Canadian federal government has no regulatory role. Provinces are continuing to explore the issue to determine if the EN 303-5 standard can be accepted in Canada.

Canada continues to discuss this issue with the Provincial-Territorial Advisory Committee (PTAC) and determine potential paths forward.  PTAC has formed a project team to further explore small solid biomass boilers and the issue of their sale in Canada. The project team will present their recommendations to the PTAC.

Canada and the EU maintain communication with the standard-setting organisations responsible for the applicable standards.

General Information-Exchange
Exchange of technical information on the EN303-5 standard and on the characteristics of small solid biomass boilers, between EU and Canadian regulators and with the assistance of technical experts and industry representativesCompleted2020
Discussion on questions related to certification and compliance aspects of the EN303-5 standardOngoing2023
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