Making the case for a domestic bioeconomy
By Canadian Biomass
June 12, 2014, Prince George, B.C. – Strong export markets for Canadian pellets, ethanol and biodiesel continue to drive the national bioeconomy forward despite slow development on the domestic front.
By Canadian Biomass
June 12, 2014, Prince George, B.C. – Strong export markets
for Canadian pellets, ethanol and biodiesel continue to drive the national
bioeconomy forward despite slow development on the domestic front.
An executive panel at the International Bioenergy Conference
& Exhibition in Prince George all agreed that international mandates and
incentives are making the financial model for exports the driving force behind
the growth of Canada’s bioeconomy. The panel, which included Gord Murray of
the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, Deborah Elson of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, Ken Shields of the Canadian Bioenergy Association and Joseph Seymour of
the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, widely recognized that the expansion has the ability to continue as
pellet needs are expected to potentially double in Europe and the RFS II is
introduced in the U.S.The panel was moderated by the founder of Canadian Biomasss Magazine and current Group Publisher Scott Jamieson.
But once again, the focus shifted to the importance for the
growth of a domestic demand on bioproducts, something that has yet to develop
to any real extent thus far.
Gord Murray, Executive Director of WPAC, mentioned that only
45 per cent of homes in Canada have access to natural gas, the cheapest energy
resource in this country. Converting small towns and rural communities from
heating oil to wood pellets would provide solid growth of the domestic market.
But in order to do so, pellet producers across Canada, especially in B.C., need
long-term agreements in place to ensure steady fibre access.
The real stumbling block, according to the panel, is the
need for government policy in support of biomass and biofuel in the country.
After all, it is policy that has driven demand in the U.S. and Europe, and it
is similar policy that it is the necessary driver for Canada.
According to Elson, who is the V.P of Stakeholder Relations
for the CRFA, associations across Canada are coming together to have the
conversations needed to push policy forward. Shields, the Chairman of CanBio,
suggested that the organization’s upcoming conference in Thunder Bay will
involve policy makers from across Ontario and Canada.
What those policy makers take away from that conference, as
well as other conferences such as this one in Prince George, will help
determine when this emerging bioeconomy finally becomes a thriving bioeconomy,
both internationally and domestically.