Cariboo North Independent MLA Bob Simpson will be part of a government committee assigned to explore the opportunities for biomass in the province.
“We’ll be doing a quick technical assessment,” says Simpson of the comittee’s work.
“What are the possibilities and challenges of seizing the opportunity? What are some of the concerns on the forest management side and what are some of the concerns of existing industry, and what are some of the legislative and regulatory hurdles that might be looked at?”
A February 2011 report by the Forest Products Association of Canada indicated the bio-economy is worth trillions of dollars and has implications for future prosperity.
Simpson says for the purpose of the committee’s work biomass is defined as material derived from the forest.
B.C.’s hardwoods have been identified for potential use in biomass.
“The new industry likes the hardwood in many cases because it makes longer chain fibres than the softwood,” says Simpson, adding this begs the question of what the use of these wood types may mean for forest management, forest hydrology, and fire management.
Demand for a biomass product and opportunities for manufacturing it in B.C. or exporting it to other nations for processing will also be a consideration.
What’s in little doubt is the industry’s potential, given the increasing cost for traditional energy sources like fossil fuels.
“We’ve got a couple reports that pins the industry as a massive industry multiple times greater than the traditional forest industry and that means more B.C. jobs from our forest, means more investment and all that stuff,” Simpson says, adding there are challenges to harnessing biomass on a large scale and those will be explored.