Canadian Biomass Magazine

From the Editor: silver linings in a pandemic

May 22, 2020
By Ellen Cools

Finding new ways to connect during COVID-19

It’s strange to think that just three months ago, in February, I was on vacation, sipping drinks on a beach. Today, that seems unthinkable as Canada and countries around the world work to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19. Just three months ago, most of us had never heard the term ‘flatten the curve,’ or given much thought to what would happen if the novel coronavirus became a problem in Canada.

Fast forward to today – some of us are working from home and everyone is social distancing in an effort to minimize the strain on our healthcare system and buy time to develop a vaccine. We’re also wondering what the impact of this pandemic will be on our sector and the economy as a whole. The news so far has been grim, with many experts predicting a global economic recession, if not a depression.

But there are some silver linings. Forest products companies across Canada, including wood pellet producers, have been deemed ‘essential’ and continue operating, following recommended health guidelines. Many manufacturers in Canada have pivoted their operations to produce much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizer, such as biofuel producer Greenfield Global. Communities are coming together in creative ways to support each other and frontline workers. Organizations are finding ways to continue sharing information and connect with their members.

In fact, my team and I have been exploring different ways to continue connecting with you, our readers, as conferences and tradeshows around the world have been postponed or cancelled. On April 13, we hosted a webinar, sponsored by the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, called “Pellet Pulse: Analyzing the impact of COVID-19 on the industrial wood pellet industry.” William (Bill) Strauss, president of FutureMetrics, shared insights about how the pandemic could impact wood pellets’ supply and demand, as well as the impact of different countries’ policies.

Given the poignant topic, I expected a fair number of people to tune in, but was pleasantly surprised to see that 383 people registered for the webinar! Bill gave a great presentation and was able to answer many attendees’ questions. It made me realize that although I can’t meet with industry stakeholders and professionals in person, there are still many ways to connect. If you missed our webinar, don’t worry, Bill also wrote an article summarizing the potential effects of COVID-19 on the industry, which you can read here.

In the meantime, life continues, albeit in a different way than any of us ever could have expected. Bioenergy projects continue to come online, including Nova Scotia’s newest pellet plant and Sustane Technologies’ new demonstration plant, which is converting household waste into usable material.

As the situation with COVID-19 evolves, we will continue to look at different ways to connect, including additional webinars. Now, many provinces are beginning to reopen the economy and we are adjusting to a new “normal.” In the meantime, stay safe.

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