Agri-biomass ready for Canadian launch?

August 23, 2013
August 23, 2013, Ottawa - Agricultural and forest biomass can be Canada's fuel and chemical source of the future, but first the industry needs to launch, according to speakers at AgBiomass in Ottawa.

Members of North America's biomass industry are gathering in the nation's capital this week to discuss the state of the industry. The conference aims to unite industry experts in an effort to move forward. Agricultural biomass from crop residues and purpose grown crops is a renewable source of material that can be transformed into energy, biogas, biochemicals and bioproducts.

Speakers at the morning session looked at some of the challenges and opportunities within the industry. Biomass has the potential to reduce the carbon intensity of our energy, chemicals and consumer products but an effort must be made to reduce the energy use in the production of biomass since more than 80 per cent of emissions are in the final stages of production, according to Dr. Susan Wood-Bohn. Acquiring the materials necessary can require a lot of fuel use in the shipment of products from farm to factory for processing.

The carbon that comes from fossil fuels is millennia old while the carbon that comes from biomass fuel is recently sequestered and will be resequestered relatively quickly, argued Wood-Bohn. Reducing the amount of fuel use by locating factories close to material sources will go a long way in reducing the wasted fuel in the production of biomass.

Another challenge agricultural biomass faces is that the equipment required to process the material is very expensive and varied - adding to the challenge of making a business case. Other complexities include timing issues, weather, transportation and storage issues. Residue management is a term that will keep cropping up as the industry struggles to get off the ground.

Though there are challenges for the industry to face, the overarching mood at the beginning of this conference has been optimism. There is an opportunity for biomass in Canada that needs to be seized.

Though there are concerns, forestry and agricultural residuals are the energy source of the future, insists Don McCabe who chaired the opening plenary. Visit or follow our Tweets @CanadianBiomass for today's updates.



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