Canadian Biomass Magazine

Curiosity fuels change: Jamie Stephen of Torchlight Bioresources

April 29, 2024
By Canadian Biomass Staff

Jamie Stephen.

“Curiosity and intellectual stimulation.” That’s what drove Jamie Stephen to pursue and embrace a career in the biomass sector.

Stephen, the managing director of Torchlight Bioresources, was recognized with Honourable Mention in the 2024 Canadian Biomass Awards’ Thought Leader of the Year category. His professional path was carved out by his fascination with complex systems, he said.

“I love complex systems and working to understand the relationships and interactions between the components in those systems,” Stephen said, highlighting his draw to the intricate dynamics of forest products and energy systems.

His approach to bioenergy uniquely integrates forest carbon dynamics, climate considerations, and socio-economic factors, and he has developed reputational as a respected critical thinker.


Under his leadership, Torchlight Bioresources has transitioned from a consultancy to a frontrunner in developing major bioenergy projects, such as Canada’s first bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) initiative, Rocky Mountain Carbon, and the community-wide district heating system, Heat New Glasgow.

“The choice of projects builds upon my experiences and learnings from over 20 years working in the bioenergy sector,” he said.

Looking ahead, Stephen sees both opportunities and challenges for the bioenergy sector in Canada. He believes in the potential to play a globally significant role, particularly in BECCS and in decarbonizing the nation’s heat market.

“Specifically on BECCS and decarbonizing Canada’s heat market, which is almost two-thirds of our energy consumption… the opportunity, but more accurately the imperative, is immense,” he said.

However, Stephen is critical of the current political and economic landscape, emphasizing the need for government action beyond subsidies to facilitate a real transition.

“What makes me concerned is that the actions that need to be taken in the forest and with the energy and carbon pricing system are not possible without significant government participation,” he said. “And I don’t mean subsidies. I mean governments taking care of their own forest asset issue, focusing on economically-efficient decarbonization, and prioritizing energy transition pathways that grow Canada’s economy and exports.”

Amidst these professional achievements, Stephen also offers candid advice to emerging professionals in the bioenergy sector.

“Don’t believe everything you hear and be ready to question the orthodoxy if you know it is wrong,” he said. His stance is not just theoretical but is also about encouraging resilience and critical thinking among the next generation of bioenergy leaders.

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