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Looking ahead

Many recent world conferences have focused less on bioenergy and biofuels and more on value-added chemicals and biomaterials.


August 5, 2014
By Christopher Rees

Many recent world conferences have focused less on bioenergy and biofuels and more on value-added chemicals and biomaterials. And yet at the recent World Bioenergy 2014 in Jönköping, Sweden, the leader of the CanBio delegation, Pat Guidera, observed, “the conference confirms once again that biofuels and bioenergy innovation and priorities remain high in the European Union and other areas of the globe.”

The opening session of the 2014 CanBio Annual Conference in Thunder Bay features a panel on the Bioeconomy Horizon in Canada facilitated by Catherine Cobden, Executive VP at FPAC and a CanBio Board Member. Panel members include Rory Gilsenan, NRCan; Bill Thornton, ADM, Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines; Michael Toombs, Director of Research and Innovation, Ontario Agriculture and Food; and Pat Guidera. They will debate value-added versus bioenergy pathways.

Scott Thurlow, President of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, will talk about what cellulosic-based fuels mean for Canada. He will be joined by Lorne Morrow, CEO of the Centre for Research & Innovation in the Bioeconomy (CRIBE) and Jason Naccarato of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre.

Bioenergy to power
A case in point is British Columbia. CanBio Chair, Ken Shields’ company, Conifex Timber, will start producing power from its $100-million biomass plant in Mackenzie by September. This plant represents the first major biomass power producer in the province since Williams Lake. Shields has been a leader in the bioeconomy, looking beyond cost-savings for forest products to the value that can be generated from the forest resource. Other B.C. companies are also gearing up in the bioenergy game: West Fraser will commission two 12-megawatt biomass power plants in Fraser Lake and Chetwynd, and Dalkia is building two 40-megawatt biomass Power plants in the B.C. Interior. These projects are a result of the provincial government’s bioenergy strategy launched in 2008.

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A Biomass Power Panel will be led by Brent Boyko, Director of Biomass Business Development at OPG. The conference will coincide with the firing-up of OPG’s Atikokan power plant, which will be North America’s largest capacity 100 per cent biomass-fuelled power plant. Bob Cleaves, President of the U.S.-based Biomass Power Association will be on hand to compare strategies between Canada and the U.S.

A diversified approach
Bioenergy is also at the forefront in Ontario as the province looks at regulatory standards for bioheat applications. Colin Kelly of Confederation College leads a discussion on Ontario Bio-heat and CHP advances and looks at what the proposed regulatory changes could mean for equipment suppliers.

Located in Thunder Bay, both Lakehead University and Confederation College are involved in researching higher-value streams for forest resources. Sudip Rakshit, the Canada Research Chair in Bioenergy and Biorefining based at Lakehead, will be joined by Tom Browne of FPInnovations to kick-off the conference session on Tomorrow’s Biorefineries.

In southern Ontario, where agriculture is king, Sarnia represents the most-developed biochemical and biofuels cluster in Canada. Murray McLaughlin, CEO of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada will champion the value-added pathway and the opportunity for Canada to develop more bioeconomy clusters based on biochemicals and biomaterials. Sean McKay, CEO of the Composites Innovation Centre in Winnipeg, will also be on hand to describe the exciting advances of his centre in developing biomaterial substitutes for oil-based plastics and metals.

The CanBio conference will have an innovative session about getting projects off the ground, led by Michael Weedon, Executive Director of the BC Bioenergy Network, who has a wealth of experience in this area. John Hawkes, CEO of Angus Power, Tony Madia of Conifex and Ed Fukushima of Great North Bioenergy will also share their secrets.

See you in Thunder Bay! • 


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