Common voice needed to push biomass agenda in Canada
August 23, 2013, Ottawa - Day two at AgBiomass picked up where day one left off - discussing the biomass opportunities in Canada and the need for a unified voice with government and the public to make them a reality.
Over the two day conference, we listened to case studies
about companies that have made successful business ventures around biomass. We
heard from farms that sell their residuals and producers who buy them. We heard
from companies that make biochemicals that are comparable to petrochemicals and
they can be used to make plastics, personal care products and a full range of
products. We heard from petrochemical representatives who are very
interested in biochemicals and moving closer to the farm as oil gets more
Attendees were interested in creating a viable business case
for bioprocessors and a recent study done by a value chain consortium discussed
their findings at the conference. The study looked specifically at developing a
commercially viable cellulosic sugar plant in Southwestern Ontario to support
the future production of green chemicals.
They studied the costs associated with the harvest,
aggregation and delivery of corn stalks to a commercial plant and to determine
the most viable business model to enable producers to gain a fair profit while
providing a facility with the feedstock they require to make a biochemical.
The consortium found they needed an option for farmers to
retain more of the value chain. This was achieved through a co-operative business
model with partners sharing the risks and the rewards.
There was a range of voices and a wide variety of
backgrounds at the conference but everyone has high hopes for the future of
biomass in Canada. Attendees agreed that these voices need to find a central rallying
cry with which to communicate their potential and needs when speaking with the
public and politicians.
Some of the take home messages from the conference include
the need to celebrate our successes since success breeds success. Focus on a
single ask that can be accomplished in two or three years. Ensure that the
products we make have a way to monetize the carbon benefit from farm to fuel
Many panelists said that we have the resources in Canada and
the world-leading companies necessary to succeed: we just need a bit of
coordination. The industry needs to create a market in Canada instead of being
a biomass exporter only. The niches in Canada are unique so Canadians need to
develop the technology necessary to fill the gaps and develop niches locally.