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National conference shows steady growth for Canadian bioenergy industry

The Canadian Bioenergy Association's (CANBIO’s) Annual Conference and Trade Show, which wrapped up in Ottawa recently, testified to rapid industry momentum in 2008.


November 26, 2008
By Rob Colman

“What a difference a year makes,” Ontario Power Generation (OPG) Program Manager for the Northwest and CANBIO Director, Jane Todd, told the 200-strong crowd. The province’s major power utility is intensively testing biomass to ready itself should the Province decide to convert the coal-fuelled plants to biomass. From just one biomass-testing program at its Nanticoke plant last year, OPG is now in the throes of an “aggressive testing program in all of our plants.” The utility is thrilled with the results so far.  “Last year the Atikokan plant had never put a wood pellet in their plant,” said Todd, “but by July of this year it had burned 100 percent wood pellets for four hours.  We can’t believe how easy it was.”  

Large co-generation isn’t the only area making big strides this year.  Communities in Quebec are working co-operatively to develop bioenergy to boost a slowing forest economy.  Carl-Éric Guertin, marketing director of the Quebec Wood Energy Board, and CANBIO Director, told delegates that while government is working to remove barriers to biomass for energy, the real crusaders in Quebec can be found at the local level.  The Bas-Saint-Laurent region alone plans to install ten central heating projects by 2010. Many of the Finnish companies in the trade show followed the conference with side-trips to Matapédia, Temiscaming and Ville Marie in Quebec and Hearst in Ontario to help these communities move forward with bioenergy solutions.   

But the President of the World Bioenergy Association, Kent Nyström’s keynote address showed Canada has a long way to go before bioenergy becomes a critical part of the country’s energy system.  Nyström said the turning point for his country, Sweden, was the implementation of a national carbon tax.  Citizens were given an income tax break in return for paying a tax on carbon and as a result public acceptance was high, he said.

“One thing is clear, whether it be through a carbon tax or trading of carbon credits, Canada needs to put a value on carbon now,” said CANBIO President Doug Bradley, summing up a panel discussion on Canada’s renewable energy industry.

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The conference stayed true to its theme of “Bioenergy in Action.”  Twenty-five tradeshow exhibitors from Ireland, Finland, Sweden, the US and Canada including the latest technologies and equipment.  This year’s new business-to-business session, where interested delegates signed up for one-to-one meetings with trade show companies, were a major hit with 57 tête-à-tête’s taking place.  

A study tour to Abitibi-Bowater’s co-generation plant in Hull, Quebec, a biomass harvesting and processing operation, Camionnage Normand Sans-Cartier, and Plasco’s waste-to-energy demonstration plant in Ottawa was also extremely popular.

The CANBIO Board was so pleased with the conference’s success, it’s already discussing plans for next year’s event, which it hopes to hold in either Sherbrooke or Edmonton next autumn.


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