Bioenergy – Not Just About Pellets
Prince George, B.C.- Around 300 delegates from around the world are in Prince George for the bi-annual BioEnergy Conference.
Bioenergy is not just about pellets anymore. Viewed as a renewable resource, there are ventures underway which are using biomass to create a variety of products including fuel that may one day replace the fossil fuels used in vehicles and planes. But all of the potential for Bioenergy relies on one thing, access to fibre.
With B.C. heading into the “mid term timber supply” in the wake of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, access to fibre remains the biggest challenge for bioenergy says conference co-ordinator Cam McAlpine “The pellet industry is doing fine because they have a fairly strong base of fibre now, but new entrants (to the bioenergy business) are having issues. We’ve got the Forest Fibre Working group that’s been looking at this issue for the past couple of years.” That working group has been trying to come up with answers on how to make the best use of residual fibre and how secondary users can get access to the land base to make use of the slash piles and road side debris.
The conference kicks off today with a workshop on safety, an issue that has become front and centre for an industry that deals with combustible dust. New reporting regulations require all incidents such as bag house fires or minor explosions to be reported even though no workers have been hurt. “It means the technology in the safety systems is working” says McAlpine.
Tomorrow, the stream of panelists will start engaging delegates on discussions with the opening keynote address from John Martin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Discussions over the course of the conference, which runs through Friday at the Civic Centre, will deal with everything from the economics, shifting power plants from coal to pellets, the role bioenergy can play in carbon reduction, innovation in bioenergy and a look at the big picture with a review of what’s happening in jurisdictions around the world.