November 21, 2005

Biocap, EnergyINet join forces to foster development of bioenergy strategy

The Biocap Canada Foundation, a multi-stakeholder research foundation, and EnergyINet, a national energy innovation network, are joining forces to facilitate development of a bioenergy strategy for Canada. The new partnership will focus on developing a vision for bioenergy in Canada and integrating bioenergy into the existing energy system as part of an environmentally sound and sustainable energy supply, while addressing the long-term energy challenges of the future.

The partnership between Biocap and EnergyINet combines the unique strengths of each organization. Biocap is well suited to address the bioenergy questions of industry and government through targeted research in forest and agriculture management, as well as the development of new technologies for the production and conversion of biomass to energy.

EnergyINet's expertise lies in its ability to integrate alternative energies, such as bioenergy, into mainstream energy supplies, and to bring broad and diverse groups of stakeholders together to reach shared objectives.

With 10% of the earth's forests and some 68 million hectares of farmland, Canada has a "green advantage" in the development of bioenergy. Technological advances are available to convert wood, crop remains and other waste products into transportation fuels, power and heat to complement the existing use of fossil fuels.

Other technologies, together with improved resource management, are resulting in more efficient, sustainable growth of trees and crops, providing the raw materials for bioenergy. By incorporating bioenergy into the existing energy infrastructure, the two partners say Canada can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an economically viable and biologically sustainable manner.

EnergyINet CEO Dr Michael Raymont, said, "the strategic relationship between EnergyINet and BIOCAP is an important partnership that helps us find new ways to integrate alternate and renewable energy sources into our plans to help make Canada a world superpower in energy." Biocap CEO Dr David Laysell observed that, "Biocap's partnership with EnergyINet will extend our reach and better integrate our work on bioenergy into the larger energy sector in Canada."

Based in Kingston, Ontario, the Biocap Canada Foundation is a not-for-profit research organization dedicated to seeking out biologically-based methods and technologies to deal with the challenges of climate change and clean energy. EnergyINet, in Calgary, is a not-for-profit network bringing industry, researchers and governments together to help develop new, environmentally responsible hydrocarbon and renewable energy technologies.

In other activities, the Foundation has just released research findings indicating that a portion of the trees killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) could be a clean energy source. The study concluded that the affected trees could supply a climate-friendly fuel for a 300-megawatt electrical power plant at reasonable cost while creating jobs, contributing to a clean environment and helping Canada meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

The MPB infestation has reached epidemic proportions in British Columbia, affecting an estimated ten million hectares of forest. Vast areas of dead, standing timber create a severe fire hazard, and threaten the way of life for thousands of people in the affected communities who have relied on traditional forestry for their livelihood.

The study report was co-written by University of Alberta professor Amit Kumar and Peter Flynn, holder of the Poole Chair for Management for Engineers at U of A, together with Shahab Sokhansanj of the University of British Columbia.

"Our study shows that a large-scale power plant using about 7% of the tree biomass killed in the MPB infestation could provide central BC with 300 MW of power for the next 20 years," said Professor Kumar. "It would also help Canada meet its climate change commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, and put British Columbia in the forefront of biomass power generation in the world," he added.

Flynn observed that "This is a unique opportunity for BC that can be developed now, since the volume of dead trees far exceeds the capacity of current and future lumber, pulp and board plants. Large-scale boilers using wood are commercially available today, and early development of a power plant will speed reforestation and prevent loss of useful tree biomass to decay."

The report focuses on two sizes of power plant (220 MW or 300 MW), located in central BC where the beetle infestation is most severe. It points out that power distributors in BC, including BC Hydro, are already obtaining half of their new power from green sources.

The estimated cost of the power, ranging from $68 to $74 per megawatt-hour, is very competitive compared to other green sources; power cost includes a 10% return on investment. Federal green power subsidies and revenue from the sale of carbon credits could drive the price down even further. The study further notes that there is the potential to build more than one of these power plants.

Responding to the study findings, Rich Coleman, BC Minister of Forests and Range, said "as part of our Mountain Pine Beetle Action Plan, we're exploring new uses for beetle-wood to get as much economic value as possible from the trees. I'll be discussing this proposal with the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources to see how it might fit into the new expanded Energy Plan to be released next year."

The full report may be viewed on the Biocap Web site, www.biocap.ca. More information is available from Lisa Doulas at the BIOCAP Canada Foundation, 613/542-0025, ext.31, or Shawn Howard at EnergyINet, 403/297-3078.

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