B.C. needs to focus on renewable resource use

Would a new stand alone ministry help improve provincial renewable resource use?
Alberta seems to think so.

Would a new stand alone ministry help improve provincial renewable resource use?

Alberta seems to think so by creating the new “Electricity and Renewable Resource Ministry.”

According to Tony Kryzanowski, writing in the March/April 2014 Logging and Sawmilling Journal, “this new ministry has the potential to have a significant impact on the local forest industry.”

The article goes on to state the importance of changing Alberta’s image “from solely being a producer of green house gas-causing fossil fuels and fossil fuel-based petrochemicals, to that of an energy province and a leader in the production of bio-based energy and bio-chemicals.” The new ministry would allow fairer competition with the entrenched oil, gas and coal interests.

Alberta is not just creating a new ministry, they also have the Alberta Biochar Institute which has a number of mobile state of the art biochar generators which tour the province and demonstrate first hand the use of feedstock in the creation of biofuels and biochar.

It has been my observation that B.C. has been focusing on LNG and coal resources much more than bio energy and bio-chemicals. Bio related topics have also taken a minor role in the forest industry discussions which have developed primarily around saw logs and lumber manufacturing. Under a new ministry of renewable resources the tenure holder would require a plan on how “all” of the raw materials would be used, not just those that are profitable today.

While we do have some examples in this province regarding bio products we still seem a long way from using the logging residue discussed in previous articles.

To be fair, the government has produced two very useful documents regarding the use of bio energy in B.C. For example in 2008, documents entitled “B.C. Bioenergy Strategy” and “An Information Guide on Pursuing Biomass Energy Opportunities and Technology in B.C. “provided some very useful information on bioenergy options.

The first document provides some interesting generalities about the three sources of biomass potential (forestry, agriculture and municipal waste) and as you would expect forestry leads the way with 87 per cent of the total biomass potential. It is a rather glitzy publication as you would expect from the government propaganda sources but it does provide a good introduction to the topic.

The second publication more than makes up for the rather general nature of the first publication. It is loaded with practical information on the steps needed to plan and carry out the establishment of bioenergy projects. This is a must read for anyone interested in the problems with establishing new bioenergy projects. This 80-page document is loaded with references and practical information on what is needed for successful projects.

What really caught my attention was the following excerpt: “this primer is designed to assist stakeholders in small communities, aboriginal groups, municipalities and industry in developing and pursuing bioenergy options in the Province of British Columbia. It will help these stakeholders to — identify bioenergy options and technologies that are suitable for the biomass resource and bioenergy markets available to them; — identify potential hurdles and requirements related to each of the technologies described; — learn about ways to finance a bioenergy project; — understand the steps involved in the development of a project; and – identify technology providers in Canada.

I am sure most readers will agree the document does an excellent job of fulfilling many of the claims stated above.

In future articles, I will use this document along with the one from Washington State to describe small to medium projects that could use logging residue to produce a variety of products and associated jobs in the West Chilcotin.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.