By Andrew Macklin
March 26, 2015 - If the 2015 edition of the Canadian Biomass pellet map is any indication, the pellet industry in British Columbia is going to be adding significant capacity over the next few years.
This year’s map features the addition of five new projects, all proposed in communities across B.C. Two of them belong to Canfor. The Canadian forestry giant plans to add 175,000 tonnes of capacity through projects in Fort St. James and Chetwynd – the latter is in partnership with Pacific Bioenergy known as Canfor Energy North.
The Gitxsan Bioenergy project was announced during the International Bioenergy Conference and Expo in Prince George last June in conjunction with the BC Bioenergy Network. While we don’t have confirmed pellet capacities for all of the newly-announced plants, this project looks like it could be the biggest with an expected annual production of 200,000 tonnes. The Gitxsan project will be built in Carnaby – a small community located northeast of Terrace.
Last year we reported on several occasions that the community of Revelstoke was taking the necessary steps to find a company that would be willing to construct a pellet plant in the small community in the mountains in the southeast portion of the province. We expect further details on that plant to be announced sometime before the end of 2015.
SMG Asset Canada has been active in the promotion of its plan for a pellet plant in Misson, located ESE of Vancouver near the Washington border. The company went public with plans for the plant in June of 2014, expecting to be able to use the mass amount of wood waste available from sawmills throughout the Fraser Valley. SMG is looking to the South Korean market for sale of its pellets, which is expects to produce at a 160,000 tonnes per annum rate.
This past year was not a year for adding capacity at existing plants or for new plants coming online. The production capacity figures changed very little year over year, and no new plants were added to the list of current producers. We had expected to add one or both of Rentech’s northern Ontario plants to that list, but at the time of publication, neither was at full operation.
There were a few casualties this year as well. We said good-bye to the Granules LG pellet plant in Mashteuiatsh, Que. That plant closed down in 2014 despite receiving government startup funding just five years ago. We also removed Canadian Biofuels of Springford, Ont. from our list. The last information we obtained was that the plant was in receivership and looking for buyers, but KPMG has not confirmed whether any potential buyer has been located.
So while it hasn’t been all good news for this year’s pellet map, the strength of the B.C. market provides promise for an increase in Canadian wood pellet production capacity, and current producers in the eastern half of the country continue to stay strong despite challenging conditions.