Western Canada’s Forests Are Fueling Greener Heating

The province of British Columbia, situated on the western edge of Canada, has 55 million hectares of public forest land, making forestry one of the province’s key sectors. Each year the industry creates wood waste, which innovators in the province have turned into a valuable resource – clean-burning wood pellets.

Throughout the province, there is enough wood to help meet the growing global demand for biofuel. Seven million tonnes of wood by-product is created from logging and nearly 140 million tonnes of standing deadwood trees are left by the mountain pine beetle epidemic and fires. A leader in renewable bioenergy, the province’s skilled workforce and wood pellet companies now utilize the damaged trees — as well as sawdust, planer shavings, bark and logging waste — to manufacture renewable and carbon-neutral solid biofuels.

Research and development in the sector is key to the success of the wood pellet industry and other high-tech forestry businesses. The Wood Pellet Association of Canada and the University of British Columbia have partnered to create the Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group, which is a multi-department, multi-disciplinary team in the province’s largest city, Vancouver, and conducts innovative research in biomass densification, preprocessing, resource management, material characterization, and supply logistics. The University of Northern British Columbia, located in Prince George, has developed a state-of-the art bioenergy facility that reduces its fossil fuel consumption by 85 per cent.

British Columbia is a key supply region for wood pellets, representing about 66 percent of Canada’s production capacity, and is recognized globally for its sustainably managed forest industry. Eleven wood pellet facilities operate in the province, with capacity for nearly two million tonnes annually, helping to meet the increasing global demand for clean energy.

Currently, Europe is increasing its demand for Canadian wood pellets to heat homes and factories. Since Europe discovered a clean-burning, reliable source of energy that wasn’t there 20 years ago, it can now reduce its reliance on coal and other carbon intensive energy sources. Asia is also emerging as a market demanding more Canadian wood pellets.

One of BC’s largest wood pellet producers, Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group, is shipping the majority of its exports to Europe, and will also be working to reach growing markets in Japan and South Korea. Companies such as Pinnacle are able to meet that demand through BC’s world-class transportation network and reliable supply chain that can get the pellets to market quickly and cost-effectively. British Columbia’s wood pellet industry also has a highly skilled workforce providing technical expertise to bioenergy operations around the world.

To learn more about British Columbia’s international trade and investment opportunities, visit www.britishcolumbia.ca.

Follow us at @bctradeinvest.

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I'm a communications professional working and living in British Columbia, Canada, and passionate about sharing the stories of the province's renewable energy opportunities.

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