CanBio/NRCan survey of the bioenergy industry

Chris Rees, CanBio
October 02, 2014
Written by Chris Rees, CanBio

October 2, 2014, Ottawa, Ont. - Canada’s bioenergy industry is growing and contributing to the replacement of many jobs lost in small communities in traditional industry sectors. The industry is also diversifying from strictly energy products to higher-value bio-materials and bio-chemicals.

In 2013 CanBio and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) undertook a nationwide survey of Canadian bioenergy plants and operations to understand the growth and structure of the emerging industry. The survey targeted production facilities for ethanol, biodiesel, pellets, bio-heat, bio-power, bio-gas and co-generation and built on the results of previous surveys.

Policy: The Government of Canada and provincial governments have implemented an array of policies to support the bioenergy industry. B.C, Quebec, P.E.I. and the Northwest Territories have emphasized biomass heat and bio-power. Ontario has moved ahead strongly in bio-power and biogas. Federal programs have played a large role in the development of bio-fuels.

Pellets: Installed production capacity grew by 61 per cent in 2010-12 but uncertain markets led to a small capacity decline in 2013 with the closure of three plants. B.C. is the undisputed industry leader focused on exports with Quebec taking second place emphasizing smaller local markets and smaller plants.

Community heat: Until 2000, only five biomass heat projects existed in Canada. By 2013 the number of systems had grown to 109, led by B.C. and the N.W.T. Ontario had only three operations in 2012 but 11 by 2013. Nationwide, 33 additional bio-heat installations are under construction, 14 of which are in P.E.I. Quebec has over 30 in the planning stages.

Cogeneration: In 2013, 39 operating biomass cogen plants at pulp and paper mills in Canada were identified with combined electrical capacity of over 1,500 MW. Independent power producers provide an additional 540 MW of electrical capacity and 150 of thermal capacity.

Ethanol: Capacity in ethanol from corn and grain has increased from 411 million litres in 2005 to 1,826 million litres from 14 plants, nearly all of which are producing at full capacity. Four pilots and four commercial demonstration plants for ethanol from lignocellulosic feedstocks are expected to come on stream by 2016.

Biogas: By 2013, Ontario has become the definite leader in Canada for on-farm anaerobic digestion installations with 37 of Canada’s 77 operating facilities. Six additional facilities are under construction in Ontario. Quebec is in second place with 14 plants but with twice as much capacity as Ontario based on five large facilities.

Torrefied wood: Two Canadian companies are leading the way in Canada. In Quebec, Airex is building a commercial demonstration unit in Montreal that will lay the groundwork for commercial plants. In B.C., Alterna Energy is building a plant capable of supplying 47,500 tonnes of torrefied pellets annually.

Pyrolysis oil: Canada was once the undisputed world leader in pyrolysis oil production, with Ensyn and Dynamotive leading the way. Ensyn still remains a major player but development has spread worldwide with Metso building the new largest plant in the world in Finland and Empyro starting construction on a plant in the Netherlands.

The full survey will be released by CanBio following the CanBio Annual Conference in Thunder Bay (September 10/11, 2014).

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