Canadian Forest Service Publications

Can woody biomass support a pellet industry in southeastern Ontario: A case study. 2016. Krigstin, S.; Wetzel, S.; Mabee, W.; Stadnyk, S. The Forestry Chronicle 92(2): 189-199.

Year: 2016

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 39045

Language: English

Availability: Not available through the CFS (click for more information).

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.5558/tfc2016-038

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The European Renewable Energy Directive introduced in 2009 mandates a 20% renewable energy share by 2020 and has driven a rising trend of wood pellet usage in EU member states that exceeds the domestic supply. This surge presents an exporting opportunity for pellet manufacturers in North America. In recent years Canada has supplied the bulk of its wood pellets to Europe; this is changing as western Canadian producers shift their focus to Asian markets. With this development and with a new dedicated pellet shipping port in Quebec, eastern Canada is well placed to increase the supply of pellets to Europe. The potential for a pellet industry in Bancroft, Ontario was evaluated by quantifying sawmill residues from twelve mills within a 200-km radius. Given recent downturns in the lumber industry, a pellet mill in Bancroft would deliver economic benefits to the local community. Using a sawmill residue model and forest biomass characterization database, these residues were evaluated to determine the potential output and quality of wood pellets. Standing trees in the region currently allocated as pulpwood were also analyzed as a potential source of biomass. The analysis of biomass resources in the Bancroft region illustrates the potential for a pellet industry meeting European pellet standards with a minimum annual production of 100 000 tonnes.

Plain Language Summary

New renewable energy policies in Europe have driven a rising demand for wood pellets in the EU. Europe is consuming more wood pellets than they produce. Europe’s increasing demand presents an opportunity for Canada to supply wood pellets overseas. Canada has an established record of exporting the majority of its wood pellet production. Historically, Western Canada dominated the wood pellet export market to Europe, but in recent years they have shifted exports to Asia, which presents an opportunity for Eastern Canada to increase wood pellets exports to Europe. This case study was performed to determine if the Bancroft, Ontario region has enough sawmill residue to support a wood pellet industry. The region of Bancroft was chosen for this case study because it has been affected by the recent downturns in the lumber industry and a pellet mill could provide economic benefits to the community. After looking at 12 sawmills in the region and calculating the amount of wood residue generated by each sawmill, we determined that there was enough wood residue to support a 100,000 tonne/year pellet mill assuming that all of the residue was used. We looked at the characteristics of the wood residue to ensure that it would make pellets that comply with European standards. We also considered wood that is currently designated as pulpwood for paper manufacturing because the demand for this wood stream has been declining in recent years. We determined that there is enough good quality woody biomass to support a pellet industry in the Bancroft region. Other considerations that would affect the success of a pellet mill are securing residue supply and competition for residue from other pellet mills, panel board plants, and pulp and paper plants. It is also important to consider economic uncertainties that could affect the export market, such as the Canadian dollar and the price of oil.