Companies explore wood use potential

COMPANIES with plans to use the region’s forests, including fibre which might otherwise be considered waste, in ways to generate new industries will be giving presentations at a one-day session here next week.

Global BioCoal, which wants to turn waste wood into a coal-like product for use in European power plants, and Pacific BioEnergy, a pellet producer which has purchased a forest licence and closed sawmill at Kitwanga, will be giving updates on their projects.

The one-day session is aimed at sparking interest among local people and companies with examples of what’s happening elsewhere, says Rick Brouwer from the Skeena-Nass Center for Innovation and Resource Economics (SNCIRE), one of the day’s sponsors.

“It’s always good to see what is happening elsewhere,” he said. “Sometimes the tendency is to  look locally too much and do too much navel gazing.”

The other sponsor is BC Timber Sales which is bringing up people from a forest research institute called FPInnovations.

It is the FPInnovations people who will outline the results of their research elsewhere, said Brouwer.

He said the goal is to take the fruits of academic research and find a practical application.

“And maybe by being here, they may interested enough to do some projects,” Brouwer added.

Biomass is defined as everything from trees to leaves to needles to chips from mills.

Brouwer did say that any new kind of value-added woods industry for the area could not thrive on just one element.

“The economics of it just won’t work. If you were looking at something for just producing power, it could only happen as a result of something else as well,” he said.

“If you were talking about something like ethanol or gasoline, then maybe if oil got to something like $150 a barrel.”

“Biocoal is something that can only be part of the equation. In the long term it can’t be a stand alone,” said Brouwer.

Rough estimates indicate as much as 1.1 million cubic metres a year of biomass now considered as waste could be removed and used.

Global BioCoal’s proposed plant size for Terrace would consume 300,000 cubic metres a year.

“In that sense we’re talking about four plants the size of BioCoal’s,” said Brouwer.

The one-day session takes place April 28. Contact SNCIRE by phone or email to register.


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