Editorial: Are we entering the bio-age?
Jan. 5, 2018 - “It’s clear we’re at the threshold of the bio-age.”
It was a powerful statement from Kim Rudd, parliamentary secretary to the minister of natural resources, at an industry event in Ottawa late November.
And if it at all reflects the sentiment at Natural Resources Canada, it’s a call to action for biomass producers to make noise in the marketplace. There is a strong reason to think 2018 will be a banner year for biomass.
Making good on its election promises, the Liberal government is moving forward – albeit with the usual bureaucratic glacial pace – with two policies that will help reduce Canada’s contribution to greenhouse gases (GHGs). These policies will help bridge the price gap between fossil fuels and lower carbon alternatives like wood pellets and other biofuels.
In December Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced the release of the federal Clean Fuel Standard with the aim of publishing draft regulations by late this year. The standard, she said, will “give Canadians better access to clean fuels and will make a significant cut in Canada’s carbon pollution.”
According to the government release, the Clean Fuel Standard will be a “flexible regulation” with a range of compliance options, and will set carbon intensity according to the entire lifecycle of a fuel.
Scott Lewis, vice-chair of Renewable Industries Canada, said the Clean Fuel Standard will “bring to Canada a credit trading market for biofuels that is essential in our ability to continue to bring low carbon fuels to consumers at competitive prices, while allowing for some flexibility in compliance.”
Also in December McKenna gave an update on national carbon pricing, giving provinces and territories until the end of 2018 to submit their own plans. To be approved these plans must meet the equivalent of $10 per tonne of carbon a year rising to $50 a tonne by 2022. While Alberta and B.C. already have plans in place that will meet the standard, other provinces and territories will need to take action next year.
Now is the time for wood pellet and biofuel companies to share their low carbon solutions with consumers who will soon have new incentives to choose greener options.
Lack of awareness is still the No. 1 hurdle to growing the local wood pellet heating market. Consumers need to hear the good news story of how wood pellets provide efficient home heating at a comparable price long term. With that goal in mind, the Wood Pellet Association of Canada launched www.woodpelletheat.ca, a website dedicated to sharing information on wood pellets as a renewable heat and power source.
For years the bio industry in Canada has been calling for favourable government policy to spur the growth of the bioeconomy. The Clean Fuel Standard and national carbon pricing are a response from government. These polices, if implemented as promised, will help usher in the “bio-age” in Canada. Canadian biomass companies should react by ramping up their marketing efforts in 2018 and getting in front of the movement.