Canadian Biomass Magazine

P.E.I. seeks feedback on sustainability of biomass supply as part of forest policy

March 11, 2024
By Todd Humber

The cover of the Towards a New Forest Policy for Prince Edward Island paper.

Prince Edward Island is looking for feedback from Islanders on its forest policy.

Towards A New Forest Policy – a discussion paper by the Prince Edward Island Forestry Commission contains 13 key issues related to forestry including the future of a legislative framework, sustainability of biomass supply, and increasing readiness for extreme weather.

Sustainability of biomass supply

The paper noted that biomass supply is a “significant contributor to the forest industry in economic terms, and it provides a market for harvested wood that is otherwise non-merchantable.”

It noted that both the province and industry have made investments in equipment for biomass harvesting, transportation, heating technology and equipment.


Wood biomass is used to heat public buildings across the province and as part of the fuel mix at the Energy from Waste Plant in Charlottetown.

“The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI), Health PEI, the Public School Board, and the Commission scolaire de langue française contract four private companies to provide heat from biomass to forty-seven provincially owned buildings,” the paper states. “Eighteen separate contracts define these arrangements. Together, these buildings consumed approximately 17,190 green metric tonnes (GMT) of biomass in 2022.”

Issues of non-compliance

The paper noted that while the PEI Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action (DEECA) is not a signatory to any of the contracts with biomass heat suppliers, five of the 18 contracts require DEECA to complete a post-harvest audit in accordance with the Ecosystem-Based Forest Management Standards Manual and report its findings to DTI.

Those five contracts represent 38 per cent of the annual total consumption for provincially owned buildings. The other 13 contracts require no post-harvest audits.

“The Commission has identified significant discrepancies between the contract requirements and current practice, including many instances of non-compliance,” the paper states. “Furthermore, DEECA is unable to meet its audit obligations because there is no definition of ‘sustainability’ or ‘sustainable harvest’ in either the contracts or in provincial legislation.

Proposed biomass to biodiesel facility withdrawn

The other significant user of biomass is the Energy From Waste plant owned by Enwave Energy Corp., which consumes 36,000 GMT per year, it said. The new facility it plans to build will reduce consumption to 23,000 GMT per year. In early 2023, SustainAgro Ltd. proposed to build a new facility in the Kensington Business Park to transform wood biomass into biodiesel and other products.

“The Commission understands that it has since withdrawn its plan to do so after submitting a request to government as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (IEA) Review process required under the Environmental Protection Act,” the paper states. “Operating at full capacity, the plant would have consumed 40,000 GMT annually, effectively doubling provincial biomass consumption.”


The paper posed four questions on the issue of the sustainability of biomass supply:

  1. What should be the role of the Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division in monitoring the harvest of biomass used for heating and other purposes?
  2. What system of measurement should be used to define sustainability of biomass harvesting on individual woodlots and on a province-wide basis?
  3. What system of measurement should be used by the provincial government to assess applications for wood biomass projects under the Environmental Protection Act’s Environmental Impact Assessment process?
  4. Should limits be placed on biomass harvesting and, if so, by what means?

The survey will help the Forestry Commission understand more about Islanders’ forestry priorities and the issues facing PEI forests. The discussion paper and survey are available at PEI Forestry Commission. The deadline for feedback is August 31, 2024

Public meetings will take place in communities across PEI this summer, with dates and location to be announced soon, it said.

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