Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How To Save Canada's Forestry Industry

Governments and forestry executives have been coming to grips with the knowledge that they need to make major changes if they want to save an industry that accounts for 300,000 jobs and 12 per cent of Canada's manufacturing GDP. Traditional forestry is closely tied to a limited number of other industries - when the housing market collapsed, so did logging, for example. Falling demand for newsprint has hit pulp mills.

That's why forestry companies are interested in bioenergy, which has a more diverse base of potential customers. _Bioenergy
Canada grows a lot of trees. But Canada's forestry business lost $8 billion last year, and stands to do no better in the future unless Canada is willing to try something new -- bioenergy.
Bioenergy is harnessed by converting wood waste into a gas or liquid, which is then turned into electricity or biodiesel.

It's of particular interest in Western Canada, because it's one of a limited number of commercial uses for wood infected by the pine beetle.

Technology already exists to use gasified wood biomass to power the electrical grid and heat buildings, and liquefied wood biomass could one day be used to power cars, said Weedon.

"It could be a very interesting and exciting new form of energy."
Since large numbers of trees die and are killed far away from highways and navigable waterways, portable harvesters and processors must be developed which can be moved from temporary location to temporary location in order to harvest the bounty of energy that is now going to waste.

The profits to be made from conversion of waste forestry biomass to bioenergy are less than can be made from oil sands, shale gas, heavy oils, and other Canadian energy resources. But as improved processes are developed for retrieving waste biomass, and for increasing cultivation of biomass crops (some of them genengineered), bioenergy solutions will provide economic opportunities for communities and regions that are currently without likely economic prospects.

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