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Bioenergy Report: Sustainability status

Feb. 28, 2012 - At the Bioenergy Conference & Expo, the first day comprised a variety of sessions punctuated by a series of keynote presentations in the morning and in the afternoon that focused on very different topics.


February 28, 2012
By David Manly


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Feb. 28, 2012 – At the Bioenergy Conference & Expo, the first day
comprised a variety of sessions punctuated by a series of keynote
presentations in the morning and in the afternoon that focused on very different topics.

While the morning
keynotes focused on markets and the growing of a business, the afternoon
sessions took a step back and explored the biomass and bionenergy
sectors from different perspectives.

The first presenter, Peter Vyncke, the CEO of Vyncke Energietechniek, discussed viewing biomass energy production from a global perspective, not just from a national or country point of view. Using his European company's business plan as an example, which celebrated its centennial this year, he stated that they have been using biomass for a long time and have plenty to teach those countries that are just starting out.

"You can learn from us," he said, " as we've been in business for for 100 years."

"So, a successful biomass business can be done!"

The second keynote was the president of FutureMetrics, Dr. William Strauss, who discussed the whole emissions debate between burning wood and coal. The problem is, he said, that the studies that have come forth stating that wood releases more CO2 emissions than coal possessed a few significant errors.

"The combustion of wood from a sustainably managed forest is carbon neutral," said Strauss. "However, you must look at the whole growth cycle, not simply post-harvest."

As well, he added that not all harvesting processes leave the area barren of carbon, as residuals such as stumps and slash will help recoup some, but not all, of the carbon lost.

The final keynote of the afternoon was a look at the future of biomass in North America by Seth Walker, the associate bioenergy economist with RISI, which used statistical models to determine the approximate state of the bioenergy and biofuel markets in 2016.

Through looking at announcements from companies, they predicted that over 200,000 pellet stoves could be used in the United States by 2016, as well as 10 million pellets consumed. As for cellulosic biofuels, they predict that commercialization will occur within the next 5 years, and then the technology will really take off, since it will become proven effective, sustainable and be able to turn a profit.

"The entire industry has the ability to double in size [products consumed] in the next five years," concluded Walker.

However, he warned that there are a number of hurdles to get over first, such as the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) movement, as well as the difficulty obtaining financing and power purchase agreements.

For more on the first day of the Bioenergy Conference and Expo, please stay tuned to the Web Exclusives section of the Canadian Biomass website here.


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