Canadian Biomass Magazine

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Editorial: A national partnership

In Sept. 12, the Pellet Fuels Institute announced it had joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture and three other biomass groups in signing a memorandum of understanding that says they will work together “to jointly grow and promote the wood to energy sector.”


October 24, 2013
By Andrew Macklin

In Sept. 12, the Pellet Fuels Institute announced it had joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture and three other biomass groups in signing a memorandum of understanding that says they will work together “to jointly grow and promote the wood to energy sector.”

This news is a positive development for the biomass market in the United States as both association and government interests come to the table to work together on industry initiatives and strengthen co-ordination within the industry.

It is news that should create a call to action for the biomass industry in Canada.

Such a partnership would not only strengthen co-ordination but also serve as a catalyst for stronger negotiations between the biomass industry and provincial governments on access to fibre. Currently, organizations such as WPAC are having little success getting the government to seriously consider the needs of the wood-to-energy market. An agreement similar to the one reached south of the border could change all of that and finally put the needs of biomass producers at the forefront of the discussion.

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It’s also important to consider what such an alliance could contribute to the development of a stronger domestic bioenergy market. Yes, there are opportunities for expanded use of bioenergy coming from coal conversion projects in some provinces, as well as some small-scale institutional and commercial programs. But many other opportunities exist, such as providing pellet power for remote communities, that could be influenced by a stronger working relationship with the right government agencies.

But before all of this can happen, two important steps need to take place.

First, the industry needs to come together for the greater good. Business and political interests must be left at the door. No secondary agendas can undermine such an endeavour. It needs to be a concerted effort throughout industry associations across the country. The bottom line is that all sectors would benefit from a more unified approach.

Second, the government needs to be engaged in an educated and thoughtful manner. Egos and prior agendas must be set aside to realize the overall potential of what the PFI/USDA model could provide. The environmental impact, cost savings, job creation and sustainable wood supply that would come from the expansion of the bioenergy market all would have to be clearly outlined with accurate figures that show the overwhelming benefit of such an expansion. These figures would demonstrate how vital the role of the federal government is in spearheading the initiative.  

Most importantly, there is now a road map to follow to create an important partnership between the industry and the government departments that have influence over it. Our colleagues to the south have created the necessary tools we need to make this a reality. It’s time to talk with them to find out how they all came together to help move the industry forward.

Their agreement couldn’t have come at a better time, or a more important time, in the development of the bioenergy sector in Canada. •


Andrew Macklin, associate editor
amacklin@annexweb.com


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