Biomass energy, or bioenergy, is the ENERGY stored in non-fossil organic materials such as wood, straw, vegetable oils and wastes from the forest, agricultural and industrial sectors. Like the energy in fossil fuels, bioenergy is derived from SOLAR ENERGY that has been stored in plants through the process of photosynthesis. The principal difference is that fossil fuels require thousands of years to be converted into usable forms, while properly managed biomass energy can be used in an ongoing, renewable fashion.
The demise of the pulp industry, combined with the housing crisis in the United States, has caused the dimensional lumber industry in Canada – or should we say the forestry industry as a whole – to be in a very precarious state.
However, one silver lining has emerged. It is the era of new sources of renewable energy, driven primarily by oil costs and the thirst for economic deprived countries to stimulate their economies and supply their growing populous with new commodities. The next ten years may be known as the “green revolution”.
The burning fossil fuels has a very negative impacton the environment (extra Co2). Wood pellets are carbon neutral and has no net effect. Trees store carbon when they grow and this carbon is released; when wood pellets are burned, the cycle begins again.
Bio-energy projects avoid carbon emissions, enhance environment protection and help secure the energy supply. Although these are international issues, for local communities, such as Goose Bay and surrounding areas, employment and local economic improvements become the primary driving force. Wood fuel creates more local jobs than any other renewable energy alternative. According to a 1998 study of the Canadian biomass industry,
Wood pellets are a type of wood fuel, generally made from compacted sawdust. They are usually produced as a byproduct of sawmilling and other wood transformation activities. The pellets are extremely dense and can be produced with a low humidity content (below 10%) that allows them to be burned with a very high combustion efficiency. Further, their regular geometry and small size allow automatic feeding with very fine calibration. They can be fed to a burner by auger feeding or by pneumatic conveying. Their high density also permits compact storage and rational transport over long distance, 70% of the money spent on biomass stays in the local community – unlike oil, for which only 10% remains in the local economy (Wood Pellet Association of Canada).
Currently, the largest consumption of wood pellets is in Europe. A Goose Bay pellet plan would be located closer to the European market than any other exporter. The above graph depicts the demand/consumption for wood pellets and is predicted to steadily increase in the near future, as well as continue in the years to come. There is currently a shortfall, where the demand for pellets exceeds the supply by roughly 1 million MT.
While Atlantic Fiber Resources operates throughout the forestry industry, we are an energy-based company, with companies across Canada, and we are currently focused on putting Labrador on the forefront of the green energy market and allowing new economic growth to occur to the people of Labrador.