Increasing Opportunities in Bioenergy Throughout the Kootenays

Imagine Kootenay has earmarked bioenergy as a target sector for investment highlighted by a recent economic report.

International and Canadian policies that aim to address climate change are hot topics and in the Kootenays there are opportunities to contribute by taking direct action through a truly sustainable “triple bottom line” – social, environmental (or ecological) and financial – approach.

Defined as the use of wood and plant biomass to generate electricity and heat, bioenergy is a fast emerging renewable-energy technology. Biomass is essentially forest and sawmill residue: bark, sawdust, wood chips, trees, agricultural residues and organic waste.

Bioenergy utilizes most of the wood fibre in each log and converts wood processing waste into a green and sustainable energy source and is used in mills and beyond with the potential to significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Bioenergy technologies from wood waste can:

  • produce heat, power or combined heat & power
  • process biomass into solid fuel
  • refine biomass into liquid fuel

Most of the energy used to manufacture wood products comes from residual biomass. It’s common for pulp and paper companies and mills to have cogeneration facilities, also known as combined heat and power, which convert residual wood fiber to electrical and thermal energy.

Many pulp mills operating in B.C. now have power generation capacity, lowering the industry’s carbon footprint of production. This makes the province’s forest industry the largest bioenergy producer in North America.

The Kootenay region, in particular, has sufficient wood waste to support up to four bioenergy facilities with potential products ranging from wood pellets, to green diesel fuel and bio coal.

The wood pellet market growth is forecast to continue with rapidly increasing demand as alternative fuel sources to non-renewables increase in popularity.

The opportunity to partner with forestry businesses to make use of their waste outflows provides an attractive proposition adding further justification to growing demand within the sector. The numerous parcels of industrial land available throughout Kootenays that are adjacent to forestry operations provides great options for location.

As with all opportunities in the Kootenays, a well established and available workforce coupled with good transport and technology infrastructure combined with ideal lifestyle, make for a particularly hospitable culture of business and innovation.

The opportunity that bioenergy offers is significant for the right investor and Imagine Kootenay is here to support business planning and research to help get things moving.